The Skinny: The Nets dominated the interior to start, with 10 of the team’s first 12 points coming in the paint. But the Bobcats relied on offensive rebounds and second-chance points to stay in the game. Charlotte’s Gerald Henderson managed nine first-quarter points, but Brooklyn led by six after one.
Andray Blatche was unstoppable to start the second quarter, scoring the first eight Nets’ points in the frame. Ben Gordon – who the Nets had interest in at the NBA trade deadline – and Jannero Pargo helped the Bobcats tie the game and take the lead after combining for 16 points on 5-of-6 shooting by the halfway mark of the quarter. Brook Lopez got the Nets get back close, and a fade-away jumper by Joe Johnson put Brooklyn back ahead. A Nets’ bad turnover at the end of the first half led to an easy lay-up from Henderson, which gave the Bobcats a one-point lead heading into the break.
Deron Williams opened the third quarter on target shooting and found his teammates down low to put the Nets back in front. Johnson also starting finding his stroke from the outside. The duo combined for 20 points in the quarter as Brooklyn regained an eight-point lead after three.
Gordon and Pargo kept up their pace from the second quarter, but the “Bench Mob” matched their intensity to maintain a comfortable lead to start the fourth quarter. But all of a sudden, back-to-back threes from Gordon got the Bobcats back within one with 2:30 remaining. D-Will got the lucky roll on a jumper that put Brooklyn up three and later nailed two free-throws. Reggie Evans then hit on a pair from the line, which essentially iced the game.
High Scorers: Williams led all scorers with 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting and dished out six assists. For the Bobcats, Gordon led the way with 27 points on 8-of-16 from the field and drained six three-pointers.
Key Stats: The Nets held a 52-32 advantage in points in the paint. The Bobcats’ bench did outscore the Nets’ bench 45-24.
Who Was Hot: Lopez finished with 19 points and blocked four shots, and Blatche added 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Reggie Evans recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 14 points and a game-high 20 rebounds. For the Bobcats, Henderson tallied 22 points on 8-of-12 from the outside. Bismack Biyombo notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
Who Was Not: Gerald Wallace – the Bobcats’ franchise leader in points – only managed one point against his former team and did not attempt a field goal. Kemba Walker couldn’t get his game going as he finished with seven points on 3-of-9 from the field.
Fun Fact: The win marks a season sweep and the seventh consecutive for the Nets over the Bobcats, meaning that it is the first time the Nets have defeated an opponent seven or more straight times since an eight-game winning streak over the Chicago Bulls from Dec. 23, 2003 – Nov. 5, 2005.
Even though the Bobcats may be the worst team in the NBA based on record, they actually showed up in this one. And good for them, considering their season has been over for a while.
Gordon and Pargo gave Charlotte a huge offensive boost in the second quarter, and Gordon stayed hot in the fourth quarter. But it was “Brooklyn’s Backcourt” of D-Will and Johnson that took over in the third quarter, and Williams willed the Nets victory at the finish. It was D-Will’s seventh game this season with 30-plus points.
Brooklyn won the first two games against the Bobcats this season by a combined 37 points, but this one was much closer. Despite clinching a playoff berth, the Nets still need these types of wins in order to head into the postseason hot.
The Bobcats fall to a league worst 6-33 on the road and are just 1-19 away from home since Jan. 27. But again, they put forth a solid effort in this one, which actually is better for the Nets as they gear up for the playoffs.
Brooklyn (44-32) remains home to take on the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday night. The 7:30 p.m. game will be televised on My 9.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.