After an impressive March that saw them go 11-2 and reach the top of the Eastern Conference, the Nets started April off on a similar note. In LaMarcus Aldridge‘s Brooklyn debut, the Nets (34-15) beat the Hornets (24-23) 111-89.
In last night’s win against the Rockets, Harden left the game with a right hamstring strain. Out of an abundance of caution, he was ruled unavailable for tonight’s game–just his third game out since becoming a Net.
Offense-Powered First Half
Wasting no time, the Nets fired on all cylinders from the start. In the first quarter alone they scored 32 points before an even better second quarter of 36 points. Landry Shamet led the scoring with 14 points here–despite starting the game on the bench. He was lethal from behind the arch, going 4-5. To be fair, the whole team did well with a 61.9 3P%. The Hornets, on the other hand, were dreadful; they could only muster a 33.3 3P%. For them, Devonte’ Graham led the scoring with 10 points. He was the only Charlotte player to score in the double digits. For the Nets, Kyrie Irving and Jeff Green scored in the double digits as well: 11 points and 12 points respectively.
Despite leading 68-48 at halftime, the Nets were out-scored in the second quarter by one. It was a sharp contrast from the first quarter, where the Hornets only managed to score a measly 11 points. Even though they turned it around in the second quarter, the Hornets still found themselves down by 20.
Hornets Make it Interesting, Albeit Futile
The second half started similarly, with the Nets going on a 12-2 run. From there, things only got marginally better for the Hornets who finished another mediocre quarter with just 17 points. However, when the fourth quarter came around, they started their own run by going 10-0. While they were able to reach their third quarter total shortly thereafter, it came at a price: Malik Monk was forced to leave with an apparent injury. He was going for a lay-up, passed it wide and landed awkwardly. As of right now, there isn’t a definite diagnosis but he did land pretty badly on his ankle. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.
Besides that injury, it was a decent finish to the game for the Hornets, who at least made it somewhat interesting. While Brad Wanamaker led the scoring in the second half with nine points, not a single Hornets player scored more than 10 during this span. Like in the first half, the Hornets struggled from behind the arch with just a 35.0 3P%. At the end of the day, however, Graham and Gordon Hayward led the scoring with 13 points. For the Nets, Green was the highest scorer with 21 points. In his Brooklyn debut, Aldridge finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals. He only scored two points in the second half but his one three-pointer of the game was a nice fadeaway from the corner in the first half.
Looking Ahead for the Nets
The Nets have a couple of days off before things pick up again. They travel to Chicago for a Sunday matinee against the Bulls before quickly returning for a Monday night game against the Knicks. After that, the Nets will finish their three-game homestand against the Pelicans and Lakers respectively.
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Nets will have some time to monitor Harden’s injury and prepare him for the upcoming week. It’s a busy week, but the Nets will have to keep their streak going if they want to keep pace with the Sixers at the top of the Eastern Conference. However, as tonight’s game proved, the Nets are deep. Even without Harden and Durant, they were able to dominate the game and score lots of points.