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Nets avoid getting stung by Hornets

Squander lead before pulling away late at Barclays

December 7, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant made sure the Brooklyn Nets didn’t give away every bit of their seemingly comfortable second-half lead Wednesday night.

Irving scored a game-high 33 points and Durant added 29, including a pair of clutch 3-pointers down the stretch, as the Nets averted a late meltdown by holding on for a 122-116 victory over the Charlotte Hornets in front of 16,903 fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

After having their season-high four-game winning streak snapped by defending Eastern Conference champion Boston here Sunday, Brooklyn (14-12) appeared to be in cruise control against the Hornets (7-18), opening a 75-55 cushion early in the third quarter.

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The Nets scored a season-high 73 first-half points and had 20 assists before intermission.

None of it was enough to stop Charlotte from roaring back, closing within two points midway through the fourth quarter.

Durant responded with a basket and Irving completed a three-point play to push the lead to 113-107.

Kelly Oubre Jr., reeled off five consecutive points for the Hornets before Durant drilled back-to-back shots from beyond the arc to settle matters, making it 118-114 with 1:47 to go.

“I think they got a lot of three-point plays. They got to the free-throw line and that slowed us down a bit,” Durant lamented of the Nets’ near collapse.”We should have kept the lead, but you still have to respect them.”

With Irving and Durant clicking, the Hornets didn’t respect Seth Curry enough.

Nets sharpshooter Seth Curry didn’t miss much on the way to 20 points against visiting Charlotte Wednesday at the Barclays Center. AP Photo by John Minchillo

The veteran guard added 20 points off the bench on 8-of-11 shooting and Nic Claxton had 14 for Brooklyn, which improved to 5-1 on its season-high seven-game homestand.

“We were running a good offense, and I was just trying to take advantage of it,” noted Curry.

Terry Rozier scored 30 points and Oubre Jr. added 29 for the Hornets, who have lost three in a row and seven of their last 10. Charlotte fell to 3-10 on the road this year.

The Nets, who have been cleaning up at home lately, will close the extended stand Friday night against Atlanta before embarking on a four-game road trip.

Brooklyn swingman Ben Simmons, who missed the last four games due to a calf strain and knee soreness, is expected to be back in action against the Southeast Division-leading Hawks (13-12).

“I’m excited where I’m at right now,” Simmons said Tuesday. “So I’m looking for Friday to get back on the court.”

Swingman Ben Simmons is expected to be back from injury Friday night when the Nets host the Hawks. AP Photo by Matt Slocum

NOTHING BUT NET: After hosting Atlanta, the Nets will kick off their trip Saturday night in Indiana before visiting Washington on Monday, Toronto on Dec. 16 and Detroit on Dec. 18. … Brooklyn had lost its last two home games vs. Charlotte. … Claxton had three of the Nets’ eight blocked shots against the Hornets and Durant added a team-high nine rebounds and eight assists to his 12-of-19 shooting night. Irving finished 14-of-24 from the floor, but misfired on all but one of his seven 3-point attempts.

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