After a tight opening 24 minutes, the New Jersey Nets went into halftime trailing the New Orleans Hornets 57-50.
Then the third quarter happened, and it all came undone.
In the third, New Jersey shot 26 percent from the field and scored 13 points while allowing the Hornets to shoot 65 percent and score 26—giving New Orleans a 20-point lead going into the fourth.
The game was never again close.
On the night, New Orleans shot at 54 percent. They were led by Emeka Okafor (21 points on 8-of-13 shooting and 10 rebounds) and Chris Paul (12 points, 14 assists and six rebounds on 6-of-8 shooting).
David West also added in 18 points and nine rebounds for the Hornets.
Devin Harris was the only Nets starter who was consistently able to get it going, scoring 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting and dishing out eight assists.
Brook Lopez struggled and was clearly bothered by Okafor's defensive presence. He scored 16 points but hit just six of his 16 shot attempts. He also mustered all of four rebounds, as that area of his game continues to be a problem.
Sasha Vujacic and Derrick Favors had nice games coming off the bench. They combined for 22 points on 53 percent shooting. Favors does still need to work on staying out of foul trouble, however, as he had the whistle blown on him five times.
The Nets had won three of their last four games mainly because of their tenacity in going after rebounds and getting to the free-throw line.
Neither aspect was apparent Wednesday, as New Orleans out-rebounded them 48-30 and had a 21-14 advantage in free throw attempts. The Hornets also had a 15-8 edge in offensive rebounds.
New Jersey is also clearly missing Anthony Morrow. The team hit just 4-of-15 three-point attempts and Vujacic seems to be the only player who can consistently knock down those long range shots.
It will be interesting to see how the team performs when both are available.
The Nets now have a good amount of time off before resuming play Monday night when they host Orlando.
New Jersey dropped both of its earlier meetings with the Magic, but Orlando is a completely different squad after their recent trade.
We'll see if the Nets can rebound from this loss and get back to doing things that were winning them games.
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