Deron Williams scored 33 points and the Brooklyn Nets made 12 three-point shots on their way to a 101-97 victory over the New Orleans Hornets Tuesday night at the New Orleans Arena.
The Hornets, who shot only 39.5 percent over the first two quarters and were down by as many as 22 points late in the second quarter, rallied in the second half of the game. New Orleans shooters knocked down 52.3 percent of their shots in the second half, and outscored their opponents 56-44 while trying to regain the advantage.
The Hornets managed to keep it close down the stretch, coming within three points, 95-92, off of back-to-back three-pointers by Greivis Vasquez and Ryan Anderson with less than a minute left to play. After Anderson’s three-pointer New Orleans began to foul in the hopes of gaining another scoring opportunity, sending Brooklyn’s Deron Williams to the line three times.
Williams sank all six free-throws, and the threatening Hornets never got closer than two points.
“I am tired of talking about ‘young,’ but that is where we are,” said Hornets Head Coach Monty Williams after the game. “We just have a lot of young guys out there. The problem I have is when we have veteran guys out there making mistakes. That’s when I get frustrated. If Austin [Rivers] is making mistakes, if A.D. [Anthony Davis] is making mistakes, if Brian [Roberts] is making mistakes, that’s a different deal. But we have to make sure our veterans are doing the right things as an example to those guys.”
The Nets dominated the Hornets in the first quarter with ball movement, spreading the floor and passing out 17 assists on 23 made baskets. Gerald Wallace and Williams attacked from long range, while Brook Lopez shouldered into the paint. At the end of the first quarter the Nets had a 31-20 lead off of 66.7% shooting.
Brooklyn’s front court outmuscled the Hornets before the break. Anthony Davis, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Robin Lopez combined for only 10 points in the first half. Almost all of New Orleans’ points came from inside the paint, and they only connected on 5 out of 15 shots from outside the key.
“It’s the meat of the game, that’s where you lose it,” said Williams. "Down the stretch is where teams with superstars win it.”
New Orleans changed their strategy after halftime. Instead of looking under the rim for production they started shooting mid range, and found that shooting success from the bench. The Hornets subs combined scored 28 of their 43 total points in the last two periods.
Deron Williams said he was impressed with the Hornets’ comeback.
“They turned up the intensity and hit some huge shots and they wouldn’t go away, even when we thought we had the game,” he said. “I thought we put them away, but they kept hitting shot after shot. You have to give them credit. They’re a young group and they play hard and you have to respect that.”
Tonight’s victory moved the Nets (34-24) even closer to the New York Knicks (33-20), their Atlantic Division rivals. The Nets now trail the Knicks by only 1.5 games.
The Hornets (20-38) will face the Oklahoma City Thunder (41-15) on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Brooklyn’s Deron Williams tied his season-high point total tonight with 33. His career high was 57 points in a game against Charlotte last year.
Brothers Brook and Robin Lopez battled each other tonight as opposing centers. Brook, on the Nets, won the stat line with 20 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. Robin scored 14 points, and had seven rebounds and two blocks.
After the game, Robin was asked if it was difficult playing against his brother (who is one minute older, according to Robin): “It’s interesting in the first couple of minutes,” he said. “I can’t really describe it. You play against NBA players every day and you are a little removed from them. I have been playing against him my whole life, so it’s a little odd the first few minutes, but it’s nothing too crazy.”
Said Brook: “It’s always fun. [Robin] is always very physical. Playing against him is enjoyable — how many other people in the world get to experience something like this? But we didn’t say a word to each other on the floor. We never do.”
Nets’ star shooting guard Joe Johnson did not play Tuesday night. He is still recovering from a sore left heel.
Other Tuesday night scores from around the league:
Orlando Magic 98, Philadelphia 76ers 84
Miami Heat 141, Sacramento Kings 129
Indiana Pacers 108, Golden State Warriors 97
Cleveland Cavaliers 101, Chicago Bulls 98
Milwaukee Bucks 95, Dallas Mavericks 90
Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns — LATE GAME
Charlotte Bobcats, L.A. Clippers — LATE GAME
With additional reporting by Jason Saul.