Nets seek season-high third straight victory
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NEW YORK -- In their last two games, the Brooklyn Nets made enough plays in the fourth quarter and won.
If they get into a close game Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center and make the plays on both ends in the fourth quarter, the Nets will be on their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Brooklyn (23-48) won consecutive games for the fifth time this season Monday when it held off the Memphis Grizzlies for a 118-115 victory. The Nets outscored the Grizzlies 31-21 in the final 12 minutes, doing so after limiting the Dallas Mavericks to 17 points in the fourth on Saturday.
"I think in the fourth quarter we put a lot more resistance on and we became a lot more physical," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. Giving up 21 points in the fourth quarter, I thought that was key. Seventeen last game, 21 this game. The defense was good again in the fourth quarter.
"We buckled down and got stops when we needed to, took care of the ball when we needed to, made free throws when we needed to."
Brooklyn is on its first two-game winning streak since beating Miami and Detroit Jan. 19-21. In their last attempt at three straight wins, the Nets squandered a 15-point lead in a one-point loss at Oklahoma City on Jan. 23 and it sent them into a 3-19 tailspin.
Brooklyn's last two games also coincide with some lineup alterations to its frontcourt. The Nets returned Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to the starting power forward, allowing DeMarre Carroll to go to small forward.
DeMarre Carroll totaled 18 points and six rebounds after getting 19 and 12 on Saturday. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson contributed 16 and 12 for his second straight double-double.
Allen Crabbe led the Nets with 22 points after missing two games with an illness. He also hit four 3-pointers and his 166 3-pointers are three shy of Deron Williams' record set in 2012-13.
One of Brooklyn's three victories in between winning streaks was a 125-111 triumph at Charlotte on March 8 when Crabbe hit six 3-pointers and scored 29 points.
For Charlotte (30-41), the last meeting with Brooklyn is part of a 2-8 slide since beating Chicago on Feb. 27. The Hornets are 7 1/2 games out of a playoff spot after a 108-94 loss at Philadelphia on Monday.
Charlotte's latest loss featured a nightmarish third quarter where it was outscored 32-14. During the third, the Hornets missed 17 of 21 shots and it was part of a 37.6 percent shooting performance.
Kemba Walker scored 24 points but was 1 of 9 from 3-point range as the Hornets shot 27.3 percent on 3-pointers. Walker scored 21 points on 7 of 11 shooting in the last meeting with the Nets but in his last five games, he is averaging 18.2 points on 40.3 percent from the field.
If there was a bright spot from an otherwise dreary loss, it was Willy Hernangomez. He scored 17 points on 6 of 11 shooting in 20 minutes though he only grabbed three rebounds on a night when Charlotte was outrebounded 60-40.
"We didn't shoot the ball well," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said. "We missed a lot of good quality shots that we've been making lately, but the rebounding was the game, basically."
Hernangomez played at least 20 minutes for the second time this season and may get more time the rest of the way.
"I thought Willy played amazing tonight. He shot the ball well, played good defense," Charlotte center Dwight Howard said. "I thought he did a really good job on both ends of the floor. I'm happy for him, he works hard, he brings that same energy every game. He played good tonight, so big ups for him."
One player not expected to appear is Nicolas Batum. Batum is dealing with chronic tendinitis in his left Achilles and the timetable for his return is unknown.
Batum averaged 19.7 points in his previous three games before getting hurt in Saturday in New York. He has played in 56 games this season, which is his second-lowest in any 82-game season.
Charlotte has won eight of the last 10 meetings.
Updated March 20, 2018