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Hornets hand Nets second consecutive loss despite Cam Thomas’ return to starting lineup

The Nets kicked off their season-long six-game road trip with a disappointing loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons on Thursday night.

Saturday night served as a perfect bounce-back spot: A winnable game against the Charlotte Hornets team who entered on a six-game losing streak without star LaMelo Ball.

Unfortunately for the Nets, they couldn’t get the job done, even with Cam Thomas returning to the starting lineup and beginning the game with 17 first-quarter points.

Charlotte’s Miles Bridges retaliated with his own early scoring outburst that led his team to a 110-99 victory over the Nets. The loss put Kevin Ollie’s team 4.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament spot.

Thomas returned Saturday night after missing the last six games due to a right ankle/mid-foot sprain. He started the game 7-of-8 from the field and poured in 17 points in the first eight minutes. He finished with a game-high 31 points.

Despite Thomas’ early outburst, the Nets only led by four at the end of the first due to Miles Bridges’ 13 first-quarter points. Shortly after Thomas got his first rest of the game, the Hornets went on a 12-0 run to shorten the deficit.

Another run to end the second, 9-0, pushed Charlotte’s lead to 11 at the half. Hornets forward Grant Williams got an easy layup after cutting to the basket and led to Ollie calling timeout with 1:19 remaining. The timeout couldn’t stop the bleeding as the team continued to misfire. The Nets were held scoreless for the final 3:48 of the first half.

The Nets’ defense was porous. Ollie’s team allowed the Hornets to shoot 57% from the field and 47% (8-of-17) from downtown in the first half. That continued in the third quarter, with rookie Brandon Miller shooting 4-for-5 from the field in the period. The 21-year-old finished with 23 points and seven rebounds.

The Hornets later finished the game shooting 54.3% from the field and 36.7% from deep.

The Nets’ porous defense was coupled with a lackluster offense. Possessions that didn’t end with a Thomas bucket looked stagnant and resulted in misses that led to transition opportunities for the Hornets. Charlotte scored 26 fast break points, which was 16 more than their opponents’ total.

The team’s overall offensive struggles factored into Ollie allowing to disregard a possible minutes restriction for Thomas. The interim head coach said pregame he would monitor the guard’s minutes, but Thomas eventually logged 30 minutes in the loss.

In the final minutes of regulation, the Hornets kept the door open for a Nets comeback. Mikal Bridges knocked down a trey with 2:29 remaining to cut the deficit to six. He then forced a missed trey after Miller made a layup on the other end. And on the next possession, Dennis Schröder airballed a floater near the rim that essentially ended the Hornets’ six-game skid.

Miles Bridges’ and-one layup with 49.6 was the cherry on top that gave his team its 16th win of the season

Mikal Bridges struggles continued as he missed 12-of-18 shots. He was 4-of-11 from downtown and finished with 19 points, four assists and two rebounds. Nic Claxton recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds. Schröder contributed 12 points, seven assists and six boards. Day’Ron Sharpe returned to the lineup after missing two games and recorded two points and five rebounds in 10 minutes of action.

The Nets will be back in action Sunday in the second game of a back-to-back against the Cleveland Cavaliers.


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