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Nets’ good fortune ends with loss to Hornets

Marvin Williams of the Charlotte Hornets and Brook

Marvin Williams of the Charlotte Hornets and Brook Lopez of the Brooklyn Nets battle for the ball during their game at Barclays Center on Feb. 21, 2016. Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Al Bello

In the last four days, the Nets gained a new training facility, a new general manager, a big win against the Knicks, and finally, a sense the future didn’t have to be so bleak.

On the fifth day, they were reminded that the future isn’t here yet.

The Nets’ recent spate of unlikely success came to an end Sunday night, as they came close to erasing a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit but eventually faltered against the Charlotte Hornets, 104-96, at Barclays Center.

Despite allowing 21 points on 14 turnovers and folding against Kemba Walker and the Hornets’ pick-and-roll for the better part of three quarters, the Nets drew to within 95-91 on Brook Lopez’s alley-oop with 4:22 left. But the Hornets (29-26) responded immediately: Walker sunk a layup 20 seconds later and Jeremy Lin collected a bad pass from Shane Larkin to quash the Nets next offensive push. The Nets didn’t score until Wayne Ellington’s layup with 44 seconds left.

“It wasn’t consistent,” Tony Brown said. “We had a pretty mobile group out there, especially some of the guys coming off the bench that we tried to apply some pressure on some of the ballhandlers and the pick and rolls. That got us back in the ballgame the second half, but offensively we were not really in sync tonight.”

Walker had 28 points and shot 4-for-10 from three-point range and Marvin Williams added 12 rebounds and nine points. Joe Johnson led the Nets with 17 points, and Lopez scored 16, with 10 rebounds and a season-high six assists. The Nets outscored the Hornets, 52-32 in the paint but the Hornets shot 10-for-27 from the perimeter, leading by as many as 16 in the third quarter.

The Nets made only five of their 22 three-point attempts and shot 43 percent from the floor.

“Their pressure made it tough for us to get into some of our sets,” Brown said. “Any time we face some solid defense where they pressure passes, where they pressure to win catches, pressure to post up, catch, we seem to get a little sluggish.”

The Nets came into the game winning three of their last five, but drop to 15-41 on the eve of a nine-game road trip.

“We got some good looks,” Lopez said. “We turned the ball over a bit much. I thought I wasn’t good at our pick-and-roll defense on our weakside. I wasn’t thorough all the time. When we lose games, I think those have definitely been two key factors.”

It was tied at 26 in the waning seconds of the first quarter before Nicolas Batum sunk a three to ignite a 9-0 Hornets run. The Hornets led the entire way after that, despite at least one highlight-worthy moment for the Nets in the third quarter: Lopez hit a buzzer-beating three from well beyond the line to end the frame, only the third trey in his career.

“I thought we had some stretches where we played great basketball, but we had stretches where . . . we didn’t play so great,” Johnson said. “Our defense hasn’t been great. It wasn’t great tonight, so it’s tough to win like that. We’ve got to get back to helping one another”


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