Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte Hornets take fifth in a row with win over Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets' Donald Sloan (15) defends against Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) during Sunday’s game in New York.
Brooklyn Nets' Donald Sloan (15) defends against Charlotte Hornets' Kemba Walker (15) during Sunday’s game in New York. AP

Probably Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford’s greatest concern in recent weeks was how poorly his team performed on the road.

That flaw might not be fixed quite yet, but it sure has been addressed. The Hornets won their fourth consecutive road game Sunday, topping the Brooklyn Nets 104-96 at the Barclays Center. That followed prior road victories over the Los Angeles Lakers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks.

It was also the Hornets’ fifth consecutive victory, pushing them to 29-26. The Hornets have three more road games – at Cleveland, at Indiana and at Atlanta – before returning to Time Warner Cable Arena.

This was a night when the Hornets’ offense shined. They spent most of the game shooting over 50 percent from the field and small forward Nic Batum flirted with his second triple-double as a Hornet. Batum finished with 16 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

Kemba Walker (28 points) finished this one with a pick-and-roll feed to center Cody Zeller for a dunk and a 13-point lead with 57 seconds left.

Three who mattered

Batum: He made three 3-pointers and filled up his stat line.

Walker: This was the 26th game this season when he reached 20 or more points and he did that before the start of the fourth quarter.

Al Jefferson: He made his first five shots Sunday to knock the rust off of six weeks of inactivity with knee surgery.

Observations

▪  Entering Sunday, the Hornets had committed 41 shot-clock violations this season, compared to 18 for their collective opponent.

▪  Entering Sunday the Hornets had lost 122 player games: 116 to injury or illness, plus Al Jefferson’s five-game suspension.

▪  Coach Steve Clifford always stresses the Hornets can’t afford high turnovers, but that seems to affect winning and losing dramatically more on the road. Entering Sunday their record was 9-3 when they commit more turnovers at home, compared to 2-9 in that instance on the road.

▪  The Hornets’ all-time record for 3s made in a season is 591. This team should squash that record, having already made 559 through 54 games.

▪  The Nets play their next nine consecutive games on the road. Can’t remember a longer road trip.

Worth mentioning

▪  Nets small forward Joe Johnson generated 13 first-half points off three shots from the field. He got to the foul line seven times.

▪  The Hornets shot 55 percent in the first half (22-of-40). Eight of the misses were from 3-point range.

▪  Hornets center Spencer Hawes continues to be out with a sore lower back.

They said it

“My rhythm and touch are back. Now it’s about continuing to build off of that.” – Hornets center Al Jefferson on his 18-point game Sunday.

“They’re so good at getting the ball towards the basket. I thought we were better as the game went on, but they still had 52 in the paint, which is a ton.” – Hornets coach Steve Clifford on his team’s interior defense Sunday.

“He’s a great player. It’s going to take a while for him to figure us out as far as shots and stuff, but he’s definitely going to help us.” – Kemba Walker on the addition of shooting guard Courtney Lee.

Report card

A OFFENSE: They reintegrated Jefferson to the low post to great positive effect Sunday.

B DEFENSE: The Nets topped 50 points in the paint, but that has been their strength all season.

A COACHING: It’s hard to win any NBA road game. The Hornets seem to have turned a corner away from Charlotte.

Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @rick_bonnell

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