A three-game winning streak will remain just a holiday wish for the New Jersey Nets, as they dropped the second of back-to-back road games, 105-91, to the New Orleans Hornets. Nets coach Avery Johnson was born in New Orleans, but wishes his team could have made his homecoming more memorable.
The Hornets dominated the game early with a 10-0 run. Maybe it had to do with the Nets playing back-to-back nights, but Chris Paul, David West and the Hornets were unconscious from the field, sinking their first six shots.
Following a necessary timeout, the Nets showed some great hustle and reduced the New Orleans lead. Devin Harris hit some tough shots and set up his teammates for easy buckets.
New Orleans led by only one point after the first quarter. Both teams shot lights out from the floor. The Nets got some unexpected offense from Stephen Graham, who has filled in well for the injured Anthony Morrow.
In both games this week, the Nets received great minutes from their bench, especially Derrick Favors, Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic. At one point, the Nets bench had outscored the Hornets bench, 12-0.
New Orleans hit a hot streak again midway through the second quarter and opened an 11-point lead. But the Nets, led by Kris Humphries and Harris, cut the lead to seven at the half, which included a three-point buzzer-beater by West. Harris and West matched each other with 12 points apiece in the first half.
Harris came out sharp in the second half and gave the Nets some momentum. Paul called his team together at the free throw line to pump them up and it worked big time. He had a double-double with only three minutes gone by in the third quarter, with 10 points and 10 assists.
The Hornets basically set the net on fire in the third quarter. They opened up a 20 point lead heading into the fourth quarter and refused to give in from there. New Jersey had a few spurts early in the fourth, but they could not keep up with New Orleans.
Marco Belinelli, Marcus Thornton and Emeka Okafor were the X-factors for the Hornets. Okafor recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
The Nets will have the Christmas weekend off to regroup and will resume play against the new look Orlando Magic on Monday.