NBA Basketball

Nets back to winning ways as they host Hornets

NEW YORK -- It was three weeks ago when the Brooklyn Nets walked off the court after being unable to stop Paul George and prevent the Oklahoma City Thunder from overcoming a 23-point deficit and winning on a buzzer-beater.

It was the kind of moment that threatened to demoralize the Nets, who felt they were close in most games during an eight-game losing streak. Instead, the Nets became one of the league's hottest teams with seven straight wins.

The streak ended Friday but the Nets won again Sunday and they seek their ninth win in 10 games Wednesday night when they host the Charlotte Hornets in the front end of a home-and-home set.

When George's game-winner went through to give Oklahoma City a 114-112 win, the Nets were 8-18. Since then, they have won those close games that eluded them with wins over Toronto, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Nets couldn't knock off the Indiana Pacers Friday by getting outscored 14-3 down the stretch of a 114-106 loss but they rebounded nicely with Sunday's 111-103 win over the Phoenix Suns. The Nets led for the final 39-plus minutes, gained control by scoring 13 straight points in the third quarter and provided an answer when the Suns mounted a comeback attempt in the fourth.

Spencer Dinwiddie continued his run of productivity off the bench by scoring 11 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. It extended his streak to 28 straight games off the bench, the second-longest streak in team history.

During this streak, Dinwiddie is averaging 23 points on 50.4 percent shooting and 6.1 assists.

D'Angelo Russell added 18 points and eight assists, and during Brooklyn's surge, he is averaging 16.2 points and eight rebounds.

"Figuring out how to win," Russell said when asked for the difference from the losing streak. "We're coming to a conclusion on what we've got to do when it comes to finishing games. Like I said, making those winning plays and they just keep adding up and I feel like it's creating good habits for us going down the stretch or down the stretch in a close game."

The Nets also are getting a lift from rookie Rodions Kurucs, who began seeing significant time in the fourth quarter three weeks ago. He recorded his first career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds Sunday.

The Nets head into the first of four meetings in ninth place, just a game behind Detroit for the last playoff spot. They are just 1 1/2 games behind Charlotte and Miami as well.

"Now it's time to start pushing," Brooklyn forward Jared Dudley said. "I think confidence is growing for us."

Charlotte (16-16) is at .500 for the 15th time this season and is 5-3 in its last eight games since losing three straight Nov. 30-Dec. 5.

The Hornets are playing their second game in a stretch of 18 out of 27 on the road and are hoping to rebound from a sub-par showing Sunday in Boston. In Sunday's 119-103 loss, the Hornets shot 43.2 percent and allowed 50 percent shooting while getting outrebounded 47-37.

"It's been difficult to win for us," Charlotte forward Marvin Williams said after the Hornets dropped to 4-9 on the road. "We've played fairly well on the road in the past. Obviously, we've had opportunities early, hasn't (been) like we've been terrible on the road.

"We've had chances to win, but we do need to win a few more games away from home. I know we have a big road trip in January so we're going to have our opportunities to go out there and get some games and we're going to have to win as many as we can."

Kemba Walker scored 21 points but only seven after the first quarter. Jeremy Lamb was the only other Charlotte starter in double figures with 14 points as the Hornets were outscored 70-49 by Boston's starting lineup.

"Our defense could have been better tonight, but I think our overall mentality just wasn't there tonight," Charlotte coach James Borrego said. "They were just the more aggressive team. They just looked like the hungrier team tonight. We got to grow from this, get better, (and) respond on Wednesday night."

Charlotte is 9-2 in the last 11 meetings since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Updated December 25, 2018

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