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Kevin Durant scores 25 as Nets defeat Hornets, 130-115, go 20 games over .500

The Nets got hot from three, shooting 53.8% from three against the Hornets. It’s tough to lose when that happens.

Charlotte Hornets v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

It’s pretty tough to lose a basketball game while shooting 51.8 percent from three.

Led by Kevin Durant, the Nets defeated the Hornets, 130-115. With the win, Brooklyn now sits 20 games above .500 for the second time this season and improves to 38-18 on the season. The last time the Nets went 20 games over .500 in a season was the 2001-02 season, the year the New Jersey Nets made its first of two straight Finals appearances.

“Charlotte plays really hard and a good defensive team but they do give up threes. It’s a component of the game and Joe got looks and a rhythm. Overall, we shot over 50 percent from three, moved the ball pretty well and we were efficient offensively other than turnovers,” Nash said postgame.

Durant had himself another impressive showing, finishing with 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from deep in 30 minutes of play. The Nets superstar displayed his playmaking ability — an attribute the Nets needed — dishing 11 assists to go along with three rebounds.

“I think my teammates were available all night and it was on me to find them,” said Durant about his big playmaking night. “I am a scorer first and I think that’s what opens up my passing is when I’m aggressive to score — I can get my guys open and find them for open shots.”

While Durant’s individual performance highlighted the win, the Nets dished out 35 assists on 47 field goals in the win and their sharpshooting benefited in a big way. Joe Harris shot the lights out in the win going 6-of-9 from deep and 8-of-12 overall to finish with 26 points in 29 minutes of play. Landry Shamet had another stellar shooting performance off the bench for Brooklyn, recording 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting from deep in 21 minutes.

“Great. I think we got bogged down at times trying to isolate against a team that loads up and zones well on isolations. We had 18 turnovers, which we want to clean up, but the assist totals were great,” Nash said on ball-movement.

Brooklyn had six players finish in double-figures (and four players with five or more assists). Kyrie Irving had a quiet performance of 12 points, six assists and four rebounds in 33 minutes followed by Blake Griffin with 10 points in 21 minutes off the bench including a Lob Borough moment...

For Charlotte, Myles Bridges had himself a career night causing the Nets all sorts of problems. Bridges, who certainly brought the buzz to the Hornets in the loss, scored a career-high 33 points to go with nine rebounds and two assists in 39 minutes. Terry Rozier followed with 27 points on 12-of-21 shooting in 40 minutes. Charlotte falls to 27-28 on the season with the loss.

The Hornets started off the contest by making eight of their first 11 shots to forge an early 18-9 lead behind little-used Vernon Carey, who scored nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in the hot start leaving Steve Nash to call an early timeout with 7:10 remaining. The Nets upped their defensive intensity and physicality in their second unit to pair a grouping of stops.

“I thought the second unit was outstanding just matching their intensity. I think they did it in the second half too,” Nash said. “I thought that was also a place where we got a handle on them for a period where the second unit was in there. They played really hard, played together, were active in both their stints. Outstanding effort from that group and making it difficult for them.”

Brooklyn opened the second with a 6-0 while Charlotte made one of their first 11 shots. Both teams struggled to secure consistent stops. The Nets failed to find an answer for Bridges, who led the Hornets with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting overall and 4-of-6 from deep - a new career-high for points in a half. Aside from Bridges, Brooklyn held Charlotte to 40.0 percent shooting and 26 points in the second with the score knotted up at 61 at the break..

For Brooklyn, the team shot the deep ball well, going 10-of-20 to complement their 22-of-42 shooting from the field, led by Durant with 11 points in 15 minutes at the break. Harris was the Nets' main catalyst from deep, going 3-of-4 behind the arc followed by Shamet, who drilled two threes off the bench.

The defense was optional to begin the third but the story of the third was Durant. The Hornets were playing with confidence early, led by Bridges certainly bringing the buzz to the shorthanded Hornets. While Bridges kept Charlotte afloat, Durant was cooking for Brooklyn. Durant scored 12 of Brooklyn’s 33 third-quarter points - two of which came off an emphatic slam over Jalen McDaniels to electrify the Barclays Center crowd.

Outside of Durant being in attack mode, his playmaking served value with the Nets' lack of ball-handlers, dishing eight assists. As a team, Brooklyn shot 57 percent from the field in the quarter to boast a 94-89 lead heading into the final 12 minutes of play.

The Nets caught a rhythm early in the fourth, forging a 12-2 run - which included an alley-oop connection from Brown to Griffin - to extend their lead to a game-high 13 with 9:46 remaining.

Brooklyn continued their offensive onslaught out of the Hornets timeout, growing their lead to 17 with 5:10 remaining. Nash unleashed his bench with two minutes to go to finish out the home stretch.

The Film Room

The Nets went sniper mode against Charlotte.

With Charlotte shifting in and out of zone coverages, the Nets went into hyperdrive...and-kick, ripping into the middle of the paint on drives, placing cutters in the middle of the floor to warp the zone, and then whizzing the ball back to the perimeter for three-balls. 24-for-41 from three tells part of the story. Here’s the rest.

Landry Shamet has been on a hot streak for the ages. He’s shooting 48.6 percent from three in his last 10 games. Those numbers get even more eye-popping when you take a trip over to NBA’s “shot dashboard” metrics on the official site; Shamet’s canned 58.3 percent on his open threes and 53.8 percent on his wide-open looks in his last ten contests. He’s been expertly knocking down relocation threes while curling off double-screens, single-screens, or even streaking out transition.

Joe Harris also got into the action, bringing back some side-stepping, back-stepping three-point looks we hadn’t seen in quite some time (maybe since last season!). Coming off two of his weaker performances of the season — an 0-for-2 night from deep against the Philadelphia 76ers and a 0-for-4 three-point performance against the Los Angeles Lakers — Joe broke his “slump” (if you want to call it that) with style, 6-for-9 from deep. The one-dribble three has become a vital part of Joe’s arsenal — it opens up his options should an opponent close out hard. Poetry in motion.

“It’s not something that I typically do but it is one of these things where this past offseason, and even now during the season, I just work on little stuff like that to create space,” said Joe Hariss about his improvisational threes. “For me, a lot of times it’s really just about trying to hunt and find space to get shots. So whether that’s moving without the ball or then when you have it — fly-bys, side-steps, things of that nature. I have been working on it.”

We’d be remiss if we didn’t bring up the big guy... nope, not Nicolas Claxton this time!

The camera tricks are sweet. The jumper is even sweeter.

Nets join forces with Timberwolves for Daunte Wright Memorial Fund

To benefit the official fund for Daunte Wright’s family, the Nets joined forces with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Lynx, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks to release player-issued, signed warm-up shirts for auction. Those shirts featured the words, “WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL,” with the proceeds going to Daunte Wright’s memorial fund.

Though the shirts have all been auctioned off by now, you can take a look at some of the options via the link below. Twelve Nets players participated in the auction, with Kevin Durant’s signed shirt leading the way by contributing $1,400 to Daunte Wright’s memorial fund. Jeff Green, Blake Griffin, Joe Harris, Alize Johnson, DeAndre Jordan, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Bruce Brown, Nicolas Claxton, Chris Chiozza, Reggie Perry, and Landry Shamet also participated in the auction by lending their signatures to warm-up memorabilia.

Abbamondi hopes for larger capacity

In an interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Friday, John Abbamondi, CEO of the Nets and Barclays Center, said he’s hopeful that the state will increase capacity for Barclays above the current 10 percent, which in the case of Barclays is 1,700. He also presented his case for and increase, citing where other states are in terms of restrictions.

“The short answer is that we’re beholden to the state. We’re not setting the policies, we’re following them. and the policy here in New York State has been 10 percent capacity. Now, I’ll take the opportunity to opine. I think that capacity can be safely be raised. I’ve spoken to people at the department of Health who agree but the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly.

“The situation here in New York, while still very serious, has improved dramatically over the last couple of months. We’re now at a point where 40 percent of the state has received at least one shot. Another 10 percent has had COVID. So 50 percent of our population in New York has some degree of immunity and one in four New Yorkers is fully vaccinated. So we’re at ten percent with testing and vaccine required. New Jersey and Philadelphia are at 20 percent with no testing required and no vaccine required. California is at 35 percent. So it’s not just the red states. We believe it’s time to increase the capacity restrictions. We think we’ve proven we can safely return fans with these controls in place. We have a 670,000 square foot building so having 1,600 - 1,700 people is extraordinarily conservative and we hope the state will soon agree.”

No word on whether or when Abbamondi’s lobbying as well as that of other sports facilities will have an effect.

As Sponge Bog might say...

Per Will Hanley.

What’s next

The Nets will return to action when the team travels to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat on Sunday. The game is set to tip at 3:30 PM ET.

For a different perspective, check out At The Hive - our sister site covering the Charlotte Hornets.