The Brooklyn Nets were dreaming of a perfect homestand until their offense ran into the Boston Celtics.
Now the Nets hold designs on finishing their season-high seven-game homestand with two more wins, starting with Wednesday’s visit from the struggling Charlotte Hornets.
The Nets won the first four games of their homestand with victories over the Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors to push their home winning streak to six games.
On Sunday, however, Brooklyn took its first home loss since Nov. 1, in coach Jacque Vaughn’s first game, by falling 103-92 to the Celtics.
“We had plenty of opportunities in the first quarter,” said Vaughn, who saw his team take an early nine-point lead and allow just 41 points in the second half. “A little bit of everything. But that team had 103 points and we didn’t play our best.”
The Nets fell to 12-3 when allowing less than 110 points, mostly because their offense could not do enough against the NBA-best Celtics. Brooklyn dropped to 1-4 when being held under 100 points after shooting 40.5 percent, marking the team’s third-poorest shooting performance of the season.
Kevin Durant, who was named Eastern Conference player of the week, scored 31 points but also committed four of his eight turnovers in the fourth quarter when he faced frequent double teams.
Durant also had little help at times. Kyrie Irving was held to 18 points and shot 7 of 21 (33.3 percent), marking his worst shooting performance since returning from his eight-game suspension on Nov. 20.
The Nets played a third straight game without Ben Simmons, who tweaked his calf in the second quarter on Nov. 28. Simmons is expected to sit again Wednesday and would be replaced in the starting lineup by Joe Harris, who is shooting 53.8 percent (21 of 39) over his past four games
Charlotte has lost three of four, with losses to Boston, the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers while playing without LaMelo Ball (high ankle sprain) and Gordon Hayward (shoulder).
On Monday, the Hornets took a 119-117 loss to the Clippers when they could not stop Kawhi Leonard on the final two possessions. The Hornets could not secure a defensive rebound as Leonard hit the tying putback with 39.7 seconds left and then hit the game-winning 18-footer with 1.4 seconds left.
“It’s just one rebound that decided the game,” Charlotte forward Kelly Oubre Jr. said. “It’s been the same story for a couple of nights. Just one rebound. We get this one rebound and we secure possession of the ball and the game is in our hands.”
Charlotte finished with a 49-47 rebounding margin but also allowed 25 second-chance points and 13 offensive boards.
“The biggest possession of the game, the ball’s right there,” Charlotte coach Steve Clifford added. “That’s the game. It’s our biggest problem. The nights where we’re physical, we’re fine. The nights where we’re not physical, it doesn’t work.”
Oubre scored 28 points, marking the fifth straight time he scored at least 20. P.J. Washington added 26 after going 0 of 13 on Saturday against Milwaukee.
–Field Level Media