Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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NBA Preview: Charlotte Hornets (20-45) at Brooklyn Nets (35-28)

When the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Charlotte Hornets on their home court nearly four months ago, they started a 12-game winning streak that propelled them from being around.500 into the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference.

The Nets are trying to avoid a play-in game in a crowded field after a significant roster turnover and acclimating to several new players.

The Nets hope to get back on track with Sunday’s visit from Charlotte, matching the largest comeback in franchise history with an impressive road victory over the Boston Celtics.

When Brooklyn started the streak, it was 13-12. It beat Charlotte 122-116 on Dec. 7 to start the streak. The Nets moved up to second place in the East thanks to the streak, which lasted until January 2. The Nets have since gone 9-16 in their last 25 games as a result of Kevin Durant’s knee injury and the trade of Kyrie Irving for Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Dorian Finney-Smith.

The Nets’ four new players made their debuts as teammates on Feb. 11, when they lost 101-98 at home to the Philadelphia 76ers. Since then, the team has gone 2-6 in their last eight games. When they were 28 down at halftime, they were on their way to their fifth loss in a row and their fourth loss by more than 10 points. But they came back strong in Boston, where they lost by 43 points on Feb. 1 and won 115-105.

Despite trailing 51-23, the Nets outscored the Celtics by a whopping 92-54 in the final 31:23. It was similar to the comeback they staged against the Knicks on February 16, 2022, in New York, and on March 19, 2019, in Sacramento.

The Nets went on their longest losing streak of the season, allowing 130 points per game. After allowing the Knicks to shoot 60.7%, the Nets gave up 53.1% in the first half. In the second half, they held the Celtics to 43% and forced 12 turnovers.

After a sluggish start, Bridges contributed to the offense’s success. His third 30-point game with Brooklyn saw him score 38 points.

In its season-best five-game winning streak, Charlotte averaged 122 points, but it heads to Brooklyn hoping to avoid a third defeat in a row. The Hornets were held to their second-lowest point total in Wednesday’s 105-91 loss to Phoenix, and on Friday, they were defeated by the visiting Orlando Magic 117-106 in a comeback attempt.

By allowing 64 points in the paint and 53.5 percent shooting, Charlotte was defeated. It was the 26th time that an opponent had a shot percentage of at least 50% against the Hornets.

P.J. Washington missed his fourth consecutive game due to a foot injury, in addition to missing LaMelo Bell due to his season-ending injury. Washington had scored 20 points in his previous four games before sitting out, and he might be out again on Sunday.

The Hornets will be hoping for another big night from Kelly Oubre Jr., who scored 26 points on Wednesday and 29 points on Friday in his fifth game back from surgery on a hand ligament. Washington is not playing for the Hornets.

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