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Hornets bring Nets back to reality: 112-105

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets scored 143 points and snapped an 11-game losing streak Friday night in New Orleans. Their last win before that came on December 26 against the Charlotte Hornets, their opponent one day later at the Spectrum Center.

The grateful Nets (9-34) hoped to notch their first win streak of the season, but the Hornets (23-21) brought them back to reality, 112-105, in Charlotte and killed any hope of a win streak. The Nets and Hornets volleyed back and forth in the final quarter, but the Hornets brought the worst out of the Nets in the final five minutes.

The Nets finished the final five minutes just 3-of-10 from the field with three turnovers. They committed just 11 turnovers on the night and dished out a season-high 30 assists.

With the loss, they’re now 2-19 on the road. They fought as hard as they could, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. You give a young team like the Nets credit for battling in the second game of a back-to-back against a tough Charlotte team.

But perhaps they should’ve saved some offense for the first quarter. After recording a season-high 143 points, the Nets failed to carry the momentum into the second game of the back-to-back, scoring a season-low 14 points in the first quarter.

They trailed by as many as 17 in the first half, and then 14 heading into the break.

That didn’t stop them from fighting back.

“We’re all a little upset with how we came out in that first half. I don’t think that’s what we’re looking for,” Kenny Atkinson said. “At halftime, we challenged [them] to come out with more physicality, more energetic. I was happy the guys came out in the third quarter and responded and got themselves back in the game and had a chance at the end. … Too bad we couldn’t close it out.”

The Nets started the second half on a 15-4 run and cut the 14-point deficit down to three in less than five minutes of action. They hit 12 of 20 from three since starting 2-of-12 in the first quarter, giving them an 81-79 lead with 20 seconds left in the third frame. It was their first lead since 4-2.

They nailed six 3-pointers and outscored Charlotte 35-21 in the quarter, erasing a 14-point deficit at half and heading into the fourth tied at 81 apiece.

It came down to what they’ve struggled to do all season: finish games. In the final five minutes, the Nets shot just 3-of-10 and turned the ball over three times. With a little less than 3:20 remaining in the game, Nicolas Batum converted on a ridiculous 4-point play, and then followed up with another 3-pointer on the following possession. Batum led the Hornets on a 10-0 run and put Charlotte up by nine with two minutes remaining.

Nicolas Batum (16 points, nine rebounds) changed the game; Kemba Walker (16 points) put the dagger in. Five other Hornets players finished in double figures.

After starting the game 0-for-7 from three, the Nets finished the game 17-of-41 (41.5 percent). They hit six in the third quarter and 9-of-17 in the second half.

Brook Lopez led the team with 24 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 16 and Sean Kilpatrick 13. Quincy Acy dropped 14 in 17 minutes and Caris LeVert impressed on both sides of the ball yet again with nine points, four assists and two steals in 18 minutes.

“When you’re looking at the bigger picture, that’s definitely [what cost us], the first quarter, but obviously there were things we could’ve done differently at the end of the game as well,” Lopez said. “They made a lot of big shots we could’ve contested a little better.”

Next up: Back home vs. the San Antonio Spurs