Miles Bridges scored 32 points and the Charlotte Hornets remained unbeaten by pulling off another strong second half performance in a 111-95 victory Sunday to spoil the home opener of the Brooklyn Nets.
The Hornets improved to 3-0 by outscoring Brooklyn 61-37 after halftime when they trailed by eight. They won their third straight after outscoring the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers by a combined 33 points in the second half.
Bridges finished one point shy of his career best set April 16 in Brooklyn. The third-year forward shot 9 of 16 from the field, made 11 of 12 free throws and also grabbed nine rebounds.
LaMelo Ball added 18 and Ish Smith fueled Charlotte’s ability to surge ahead in the fourth quarter by scoring 11 of his 15 points. Cody Martin chipped in 12 as the Hornets shot 53 percent in the second half and 45.7 percent overall.
The Hornets pulled away despite quiet showing from Gordon Hayward and Kelly Oubre Jr., who were held to a combined 17 points.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 38 points as Brooklyn dropped to 7-3 in home openers since moving from New Jersey in 2012. Durant made his first five shots and shot 17 of 24 from the floor.
James Harden added 15, eight assists and seven rebounds and was the only other player to reach double figures for the Nets, who shot 43.7 percent and misfired on 26 of 35 3-point tries.
The game was played after an anti-vaccine protest was staged outside Barclays Center in support of Kyrie Irving, who cannot play home games and is being held out of all games until he gets the vaccine.
Protesters chanting “Let Kyrie play” and holding signs reading “Stand with Kyrie” climbed through barricades and the arena was briefly locked down.
Durant’s running dunk gave Brooklyn a 68-59 lead with 8:08 remaining in the third quarter but Bridges converted a three-point play to cap a 14-4 run and give Charlotte a 73-72 lead with 3:40 left. The Hornets held a 79-78 lead going into the fourth after Smith knocked down an 18-footer with 34.7 seconds remaining.
Smith’s 3-pointer with 5:17 remaining gave Charlotte a 97-88 lead and his 17-footer made it 102-93 with 3:55 left. Following a timeout, Martin hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock ran down for a 107-93 lead with 2:43 remaining to essentially clinch the win.
–Field Level Media