LaMarcus Aldridge Drops 11 and 9 in Nets Debut as Brooklyn Romps Past Hornets

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 2, 2021

Brooklyn Nets center LaMarcus Aldridge shoots over Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, April 1, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

LaMarcus Aldridge's debut with the Brooklyn Nets ended with an emphatic 111-89 home win over the Charlotte Hornets at the Barclays Center.

The seven-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA team player posted 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 30 minutes (plus-22). He started at center for Brooklyn, which led by as many as 32.

Jeff Green led the Nets with 21 points, and Kyrie Irving added 15 points, 11 boards and eight assists. For Charlotte, Gordon Hayward and Devonte' Graham paced the team with 13 points.

Brooklyn was without Kevin Durant (left hamstring strain), James Harden (right hamstring tightness) and Blake Griffin (left knee: injury management). Charlotte point guard LaMelo Ball remained out with a broken right wrist that may cost him the remainder of the season.

The 24-23 Hornets, who had won four of five entering Thursday, remained fourth in the Eastern Conference. The 34-15 Nets, who have won four straight, stayed in first in the East.


Notable Performances

Nets G Kyrie Irving: 15 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists

Nets C LaMarcus Aldridge: 11 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists

Nets F Jeff Green: 21 points, 8 rebounds

Hornets G Devonte' Graham: 13 points, 5 rebounds

Hornets F Gordon Hayward: 13 points, 4 rebounds

Hornets G Terry Rozier: 12 points, 5 rebounds


Aldridge Enjoys Excellent Brooklyn Debut

Thursday couldn't have gone much better for Aldridge, who joined the Nets as a free agent on March 28 after the San Antonio Spurs bought out the remainder of his contract.

The ex-Spur and Portland Trail Blazer wasn't enjoying a great 2020-21 season for San Antonio, posting 13.7 points on 46.4 percent shooting and 4.5 rebounds in 25.9 minutes. The board number was a career low, with the scoring average his lowest since his 2006-07 rookie year.

But on Thursday, Aldridge turned back the clock a few years to his two All-Star seasons with the Spurs, scoring and rebounding with ease early on. He finished the first half with nine points and six boards.

His first bucket as a Net came from downtown in the corner:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

First field goal as a net is 𝓅𝓊𝓇𝑒 @aldridge_12 | #BrooklynTogether https://t.co/cHWAcxrJCu

LMA backed down Miles Bridges for a go-to move later on:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

VINTAGE 🔵🔴 @aldridge_12 https://t.co/WW2895yuo1

Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News recognized Aldridge's classic post-up game:

Kristian Winfield @Krisplashed

Death, taxes and LaMarcus Aldridge post ups

The 15-year veteran was also an excellent distributor and tied a career record with five assists in the first half, per ESPN Stats & Info (h/t ESPN's Malika Andrews): 

Malika Andrews @malika_andrews

LaMarcus Aldridge already has five assists tonight for Brooklyn. That is tied for his most in a first half in his career, according @ESPNStatsInfo The Nets lead the Hornets 68-48 -- their second largest halftime lead this season.

Aldridge and the Nets didn't have much trouble in the second half, with the big man swatting a shot to start a break that ended with another bucket:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

LaMarcus gets the swat Kyrie on the break Bruce with the finish INSTANT OFFENSE https://t.co/V63zx8Osee

Matt Brooks of Nets Daily complimented his defense:

Matt Brooks @MattBrooksNBA

I've really liked Aldridge's effort on defense. Nets are doing right by him by keeping him in a drop. Seems like the way to use him. Still a big body who covers some ground when contesting. On offense, the post-play is generating looks. Even seen a little of the spacing too.

The Nets did take their foot off the gas for a bit, allowing Charlotte to go on a 15-0 run to cut the Nets' lead to 92-75 with 10:11 in the fourth quarter.

But Aldridge stopped the bleeding with another post-up bucket and a dish to Joe Harris for a three to put Brooklyn back up 22.

Overall, Aldridge's first Nets game could not have gone much better, and he'll look for an encore this weekend.


Hornets Defense Falters in Ugly Loss

The Hornets entered Thursday with a middle-of-the-pack defense, ranking 14th in points per game allowed and 17th in efficiency, per Basketball Reference.

However, Charlotte's defense has largely been exceptional of late, holding its last five opponents to an average of 100.8 points per game.

That average includes an extra five minutes of overtime against the second-place Phoenix Suns, who held off Charlotte 101-97 to give the Hornets their only defeat in that stretch.

That run was made all the more impressive considering it was done without Ball.

But nothing went right defensively Thursday for the Hornets, which was a big problem considering they scored just 11 first-quarter points. The Nets tallied 32 during the first 12 minutes and led 54-26 with five minutes left in the first half.

Teams aren't going to win many games if they allow the opposition to shoot 20-of-45 from three-point range. Plus, Brooklyn's ball movement was also exceptional, and it led to 34 assists, with three players getting at least six.

It was ultimately a painful loss for a team that had done so well of late, especially considering the Hornets found themselves with an opportunity to steal one from Brooklyn with Harden, Durant and Griffin out.

It wasn't meant to be, though, as Charlotte's defense couldn't stop the red-hot Nets.


What's Next?

Charlotte will visit the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday at 8 p.m. ET. The Nets will play at the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on Sunday at 2 p.m.