Nets come up empty in loss to porous Hornets


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Hornets were on the worst losing skid in the NBA.

But Brooklyn was even worse Saturday night. Much worse.

The Nets are apparently everybody else’s get-well game.

Cam Thomas, who scored a game-high 31 points, goes up for a shot during the Nets’ 110-99 loss to the Hornets. Cory Knowlton-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the return of Cam Thomas, they got beaten 110-99 by Charlotte before a sellout crowd of 19,090 at Spectrum Center, a desultory defeat that was about more than just talent but temperament as well.

Brooklyn’s lack of grit was concerning.

But coming against the horrid Hornets (16-48), who had been mired in a league-worst six-game losing streak, it set off alarm bells.

Loud ones.

Sparked by the return of Thomas from a sprained ankle, the Nets (25-39) led by as much as a dozen early, but gave that away. And when they did, they had very little fight in them to come back.

Stuck in a 48-all deadlock with five minutes left in the second quarter, Brooklyn watched Charlotte close the half on a 15-4 run – including the last nine unanswered points.

The Nets had no legitimate answer in the second half, either.

They never led again, or even pulled even.

Dennis Smith Jr., who scored seven points, battles JT Thor for the ball during the Nets’ loss. Cory Knowlton-USA TODAY Sports

Brooklyn fell 4 ½ games behind idle Atlanta for the final play-in spot in the Eastern Conference, with just 18 dates left on the docket.

And they have nobody but themselves and their lackadaisical defense to blame.

They allowed 24 points to Miles Bridges and .543 percent shooting overall, the fourth-highest they’d permitted all season.

And it came on a litany of line drives to the basket that undercut any offensive boost they got from the return of Thomas.

Nic Claxton, who scored 14 points, scores a bucket over Nick Richards during the Nets’ loss. Cory Knowlton-USA TODAY Sports

In his first game since Feb. 26, Thomas looked like he’d never left. He poured in a game-high 31 points on 12-of-24 shooting, five-of-10 from behind the arc.

After missing the prior six games, Thomas couldn’t miss a shot early. He was 7-of-8 in the opening period, and 3-of-4 from deep.

But after he had 17 in the first period – the fourth-highest scoring quarter by a Net this season – they got outscored 32-17 as a team in the second.

Thomas had seven points on 3-of-3 shooting in less than two minutes to spot Brooklyn to a quick 9-2 cushion.

Hornets’ Nick Richards, who scored 15 points, during the Nets’ loss. AP

Dennis Schroder (12 points, seven assists, six rebounds) made a driving layup to push the lead to 28-18 with 4:16 in the first.

But Brooklyn allowed a 15-7 run to close the first. And soon they didn’t lead at all.

Tied 48-all with five minutes left in the half, they let the Hornets close on a 15-4 blitz.

A turnover and dunk by Brandon Miller (23 points, six rebounds) made it 63-52 going into the break.

And the Nets were essentially broken.

They never pulled even. Down 68-58, they did manage a 14-6 run to get within a deuce — but no closer.

The Nets conceded a 12-4 run that put them down by double-digits, and put the game away.

Davis Bertans made it 86-76 with a 3 and the Hornets closed the Nets out.

Brooklyn plays Sunday in Cleveland.


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