If you strike the king, you must kill him. And while the Nets played well against the Celtics, the league’s best team took advantage of them late in the game and even Kevin Durant’s heroics couldn’t save them from royal retribution.
Still, it was the Nets first loss on their seven-game homestand which continues Wednesday night at Barclays Center vs. the injury-decimated Charlotte Hornets. The final game of the time at home will be Friday vs. the Hawks.
Tonight’s opponents are winners of only seven games in 24. Only three other teams have lost more games: the Spurs, Pistons and Magic, putting them squarely in Wemby Watch territory. They’ve also lost two straight and they are without three top players, including their superstar candidate LaMelo Ball who now has missed eight straight games after returning from an off-season injury and playing in three before returning to street clothes.
On the other hand, even without injured stars (see below), the Hornets came close to beating the Clippers on Monday, but in the end, they lost by two. And in their only meeting so far this season, the Nets beat the Hornets, but the game was close too, 98-94, with Kyrie Irving suspended. It was Cam Thomas best game of the season. He scored 21.
Where to follow the game
Again, it’s all local. YES Network and the YES App have the telecast, and WFAN-FM has the radio call. We have a normal 7:30 p.m. ET start-time.
The good news is that Ben Simmons and Yuta Watanabe are excited about returning ... this weekend. The bad news is that Simmons and Watanabe are still out, with calf and hamstring strains respectively. Edmond Sumner may be back vs. Charlotte. He’s listed as questionable.
The Hornets side of things is ugly. In addition to Ball (ankle) who missed 13 games, played two, then missed the last eight, Charlotte will be missing Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle), Mark Williams (ankle) and Gordan Hayward (fractured shoulder.) There is no timetable for their return.
The Nets aren’t just at home. They are rested even if hurt. They haven’t played since Sunday night. Meanwhile the Hornets are coming off a tough loss, 119-117, to the Clippers. They simply could not stop Kawhi Leonard on the final two possessions. Leonard hit the tying putback with 39.7 seconds left and then hit the game-winning 18-footer with 1.4 seconds left.
“It’s just one rebound that decided the game,” Charlotte forward Kelly Oubre Jr. said. “It’s been the same story for a couple of nights. Just one rebound. We get this one rebound and we secure possession of the ball and the game is in our hands.”
But rebounding was not the Hornets big issue Monday. Even after scoring 117 points vs. the Clippers, they rank 30th and last in the NBA in offensive rating. Nets are 13th. Charlotte is also 29th in shooting percentage overall and from beyond the arc. They are a little better on defense, ranking 20th in defensive rating and in rebounding despite Oubre’ comments. They actually rank fifth and outrebounded the Clippers by two, 49-47. That of course doesn’t bode well for the Nets who rank 28th in team rebounding, seven boards fewer per game than the Hornets.
Player To Watch
On offense, the Hornets are led by Kelly Oubre Jr. who scored 28 points Monday, marking the fifth straight time he scored at least 20. P.J. Washington added 26 but continued his inconsistent ways. He went 0-of-13 on Saturday against Milwaukee. Terry Rozier had 22.
Oubre has indeed picked up the slack for his missing teammates. For the season, he’s averaging 20.1 points per game with shooting splits of 42/31/73. Not ideal but when you have so many stars on the mend, you have to appreciate what you have.
Terry Rozier is also averaging better than 20 a game at 21.3 a game, but he’s only shooting 38.5% overall and 30.1% from three.
The other player trying to keep the Hornets from getting swatted away while everyone recovers is former Net Mason Plumlee who is leading the Hornets in rebounds (9.1) and is averaging 4.1 assists out of the post as well.
Bottom line is that the Hornets need this win, having lost three of their last four. Desperate men do desperate things.
One big disappointment for the Nets vs. the Celtics was it hurt their record of winning when playing defense. They are 12-3 when allowing less than 110 points. Brooklyn dropped to 1-4 when being held under 100 points.
From the Vault
It was, say insiders, the scariest moment of Jason Kidd’s tenure in New Jersey when in the 2002 playoffs, he suffered a bad cut over his left eye but kept playing and brought the Nets within a game of the Eastern Conference Finals. The injury was ugly, his performance was decidedly not.
For further reading, go to At the Hive, our SB Nation sister site.
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Charlotte Hornets Game Notes - Charlotte Hornets
- Nets look to rebound at home, take on Hornets - STATS
- Yuta Watanabe nearing return from injury after unexpected Nets impact - Mark W. Sanchez - New York Post
- Ben Simmons looks to lighten workload as Nets return looms - Mark W. Sanchez - New York Post
- Nets’ Ben Simmons to miss 4th straight, hopes to return Fri. - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Nets Notebook: Yuta Watanabe close to return after hamstring injury - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets’ Ben Simmons out for Wednesday but aims to play Friday - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- Nets’ Ben Simmons plans to return Friday. How will Brooklyn handle long-term concerns? - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- Hornets mailbag: Will team ever be fully healthy? Can Bryce McGowens stay in rotation? - Charlotte Observer