The Skinny: Without Joe Johnson for the third straight game, Deron Williams came out scorching hot for the Nets, orchestrating a 17-6 run in the opening minutes of the first quarter. Brook Lopez was also efficient from the field, adding 10 points in the opening frame to help Brooklyn open an 11-point lead after one.
Great energy play from Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and Andray Blatche led the Nets on a 20-9 run to start the second quarter to increase the lead to 22. New Orleans then responded with a 10-2 run of their own to cut into the lead but still trailed by 16 at the break. Williams had 20 points through one half.
Williams had his wrist stepped on early in the third and was forced to leave the game. The Hornets went on a 6-0 run after that to get back within 12. New Orleans kept up the pace as it decreased the lead to seven. But five straight points from C.J. Watson put the Nets back up double-digits, and Brooklyn led by eight after three.
The Nets went back up 10 on a Keith Bogans three-pointer early in the fourth. But again the Hornets chipped into the lead and trailed by four at the five-minute mark. A few key baskets from Brook Lopez increased the lead to eight, and a Williams three on the next possession put the team up nine. The Hornets got to within three on a Ryan Anderson three with 18 seconds remaining. Williams made a pair of free-throws putting Brooklyn up five. New Orleans hung tough, but two more free-throws from Williams iced the game. Williams scored the final 11 points of the game for the Nets.
High Scorers: Williams led all scorers with 33 points on 10-of-21 from the field and recorded eight assists. For the Hornets, Greivis Vasquez led the way with 20 points on 9-of-20 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds and tallied seven dimes.
Key Stats: The Nets exhibited great ball movement, recording 28 assists on 37 made field goals. Brooklyn also shot 60 percent (12-of-20) from three-point range compared to 36 percent (5-of-14) for New Orleans.
Who Was Hot: Brook Lopez shot 9-of-14 from the floor for 20 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished out five assists and blocked four shots. Bogans made clutch shots in the fourth quarter and finished 4-of-4 for 12 points. Robin Lopez scored 14 points and pulled down seven boards for the Hornets.
Who Was Not: Eric Gordon shot 4-of-15 from the field for 10 points. Reggie Evans was 0-of-4 in the game, with all four of his shots getting blocked.
Fun Fact: Humphries recorded his 3,000th career rebound in this one as well as his 1,000th career offensive rebound and 2,000th career defensive rebound.
Playing without “Joe Smooth” didn’t seem to affect the Nets tonight until the third quarter when the team managed just 16 points.
After shooting 62 percent from the field in the first half, Brooklyn shot just 36 percent in the second. But a win’s a win, and Brook Lopez was once again a factor in the fourth quarter with six points in the final frame after not playing in three of the past four final quarters.
Williams came up clutch in Johnson’s absence, which is what he will need to do even when Johnson returns healthy. Watson (10 points) now has six straight games scoring in double figures.
Brook Lopez got the best of twin brother Robin Lopez for just the second time in six career tries. Robin has averaged 10.5 points and 3.8 rebounds in head-to-head matchups with his twin, while Brook has managed 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in those games.
The Hornets had won seven of nine games in this series – including four straight – but the victory snaps the Nets’ recent two-game skid. The Nets also tied their mark for longest road winning streak of the season at three.
The win also moves P.J. Carlesimo to 20-10 as interim head coach, which ties Lawrence Frank for the best start for a coach in franchise history.
Brooklyn (34-24) will be home Friday night to take on Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. The 8 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.