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Brooklyn Nets hold off Charlotte Hornets

The Brooklyn Nets held off the Charlotte Hornets 117-115 Saturday, following a controversial final possession in which the Hornets’ Kemba Walker did not get off a shot and appeared to be fouled by the Nets’ Caris Lavert.

Walker pump-faked, appeared to draw contact from Lavert along the body, but there was no whistle as time expired.

The Hornets had recovered from as much as 19 points down to lead in the fourth quarter.

Kemba Walker vs Nets.JPG

Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker, left, is fouled by Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell during Saturday night’s NBA game at Spectrum Coliseum.

Chuck Burton AP

Nets All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell finished with 40 points, including a key 3-pointer in the final minute.

Russell later hit the front rim with a 3-pointer and Nic Batum rebounded for the Hornets, giving them possession with seven seconds left. Russell had made a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left for the two-point lead, then Walker missed a jumper giving the Nets possession.

Walker finished with 32 points. His backup, Tony Parker, scored 21.

The Nets widened their lead for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, improving to 31-30. The Hornets fell to 28-31.

Three who mattered

Parker: He has been such a great addition at what was a position of dramatic need behind Kemba Walker.

Russell: He made some exceptional degree-of-difficulty pull-up jump shots.

Walker: His first 5 1/2 minutes of the third quarter – when he scored 15 points – were wild.

Observations

▪ Parker returned Friday against the Washington Wizards after he missed the last four games prior to the All-Star break with a back strain. Parker was by far the Hornets’ best player in the first half with 13 points, two rebounds and two assists off the bench.

▪ Parker played 15 of a possible 24 first-half minutes. To put that in context, the goal when 36-year-old Parker signed with the Hornets in July was that he could handle averaging 15 minutes per game. As Hornets general manger Mitch Kupchak said recently, Parker has exceeded every expectation Kupchak had at the signing.

▪ Hornets coach James Borrego said Wednesday Parker has hit a point where he can comfortably play 6-8 minute segments, where earlier this season he usually wasn’t playing for more than five minutes without a rest. That has added up to closer to 20 minutes or more in a game.

▪ Hornets rookie Miles Bridges again started Saturday, but he wasn’t on the court long in the first half because he committed three fouls in his first seven minutes.

Worth mentioning

▪ Bismack Biyombo continues as the Hornets’ backup to Cody Zeller at center, ahead of Willy Hernangomez and Frank Kaminsky.

▪ This was a back-to-back for the Hornets – playing on consecutive nights – but not as grueling as usual because both games were at home.

▪ The Hornets’ next two games are also at home, but a big step up in competition against the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.

They said it

“More defensive tenacity, more length, more athleticism.” – Borrego on what he saw Friday resulting from a switch to rookie Miles Bridges in the starting lineup.

“He’s developing, he’s growing, he got, what close to 40 minutes last night? He’s not going to get 40 minutes with us, I can tell you that.” – Borrego on rookie Devonte Graham’s 42-point game with the G-League Greensboro Swarm Friday.

Report card

C OFFENSE: It was a struggle in the first half.

C+ DEFENSE: They limited the Nets’ points in the paint, but that led to lots of open 3-pointers.

B- COACHING: Sticking with Parker in the first half was important to keeping the Hornets in this game.

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