Coming into this contest in Charlotte, the Brooklyn Nets had won their first two games by a combined margin of 54 points, while the Hornets were 0-2 in their first two games.
So, it would have been safe to bet on another W for the squad led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, that's not how things rolled on Sunday's NBA slate that was full of upset wins.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the Hornets 106-104 home win:
Nets make late charge, fail to cap it off
Early in the fourth quarter, the visitors were down by as many as 16 (97-81) and that's when they made their comeback charge. Over the final 7:43 of the game, the Nets outscored the Hornets 23-9 but they fell two points short.
Durant and Irving combined for 10 of those 23 but it was a KD miss with just 7.4 seconds left that saw the game slip through. He decided against a three, which would have given them the 105-104 lead, but the ensuing pull-up midrange jumper didn't fall.
"I thought it was going in," said Durant. "It looked good when it left my hands. It was a little right, so maybe I had to touch it up a little bit more."
Kevin Durant (team-high 29 pts) tells @Grady he and the @BrooklynNets will "keep pushing through" after the team's first loss of the season. pic.twitter.com/uJZJzEG2Jw- YES Network (@YESNetwork) December 28, 2020
"It was good to play in a fourth-quarter game again. Play a game that we had to, you know, fight uphill and claw back to get back into the game and was able to make it a late game. They made more plays than us."
Durant finished the game with 29 points (9-15 FGs) while Irving had 25 points (10-17 FGs) along with six assists. The only other players in double figures were Joe Harris (13) and Caris LeVert (10) as the Nets' 19 turnovers led to 23 points and they were outscored 19-8 in fastbreak points.
Veteran Hayward leads from the front
In this game, where six Charlotte players scored in double figures, the veteran led from the front.
For the second time in three games of his short Hornets career, Gordon Hayward finished with an efficient 28 points and for the third straight game, he dished out seven assists.
"Man, that's just how the NBA works, right?" said Hayward. "We drop our first two, we're playing Brooklyn on a back-to-back. This is one where you could see us losing out and away, but we fought tonight. I thought it was great by us to fight, to compete. Just a great win."
Other key contributors for the hosts were P.J. Washington (14 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals) and Terry Rozier (19 points, 5 assists). Meanwhile, rookie LaMelo Ball finished with six points, five rebounds, and five assists in 20 minutes of action.
TERRY ROZIER ON KD 🔨 pic.twitter.com/s2syYwVbe3- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 28, 2020
The Hornets, as a team, assisted on 35 of their 43 made field goals (81.4%).
Update on Spencer Dinwiddie & Jeff Green
Guard Spencer Dinwiddie left the game with 10:12 left in the third quarter and he never returned. He was later ruled out for the rest of the game with a right knee strain. He is set to be evaluated again on Monday morning, as per ESPN's Malika Andrews.
Steve Nash says Spencer Dinwiddie (knee strain) will be evaluated again on Monday morning.- Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) December 28, 2020
Teammate Jeff Green was also injured in the game, after colliding with Biyombo's elbow. He was available to return after receiving eight stitches but he only checked-in for a couple of minutes in the second half.
It's a quick turnaround for the Nets, playing a back-to-back back home against the Memphis Grizzlies. Meanwhile, the Hornets will travel to Dallas after a couple of days to face the Mavericks for a one-off road game.
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