CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- No fiery, long-winded halftime speech was necessary.
"We didn't have to say nothing," Deron Williams said. "We knew we missed some shots early. We had some good looks in the first half. We just didn't knock them down.
"We were definitely disappointed that we were down 10."
The Nets were mired in a first-half malaise Wednesday night, giving the hapless Bobcats hope. They were playing uninspired, almost as if they knew they could roll over a team that had dropped its previous seven games by an average of 22 points. Good thing Joe Johnson finally returned to form.
Johnson sparked the Nets in the second half, pumping in 16 of his game-high 22 points, 10 of which came in the game-changing third quarter. Johnson fueled an offense that outscored Charlotte by 31 points in the second half, leading the Nets to a much-needed 99-78 victory in front of a sparse Time Warner Cable Arena crowd.
Johnson scored on 8 of 14 attempts, draining 5 of 8 shots from beyond the arc. He looked as good as he has since missing the first three games after the All-Star break, nursing a sore left heel. So although interim coach P.J. Carlesimo unveiled his tightened rotation, leaving Kris Humphries on the outside looking in, the Nets (35-26) still had to turn to their closer to put the woeful Bobcats away.
Johnson's offensive jolt got them going, but the Nets, who shot 64.7 percent in the second half, had to put the clamps down defensively in order to halt their two-game slide. After yielding 30 points in the paint in the first half, the Nets tightened things up in the second half, allowing 12 points inside the key.
In fact, they limited Charlotte (13-48) to nine third-quarter points and just 25 points overall after the half.
"We played defense in the second half," Carlesimo said. "We didn't play defense in the first half . . . We weren't not trying, but we didn't play with near the same passion that we did in the second half."
The Nets had an atrocious 24 turnovers, which directly led to 16 points for the Bobcats and aided in Charlotte taking a 53-43 lead into the half.
"We were careless as hell with the ball again," Carlesimo said, "which really hurt us."
At least they solved their third-quarter issues for one night.
"When we come out in the third quarter, I don't even pay attention to the fact it's been our toughest quarter," Johnson said. "We just come out and play. For whatever reason, we picked it up."
Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led Charlotte with 17 points.
Mirza Teletovic didn't have an overwhelming stat line with three points and three assists in 14:01 of action. But he was a key part of a 13-2 run in which the Nets, who've won four of their last five games on the road, climbed back into it after falling behind by 12 points in the first quarter. "It feels good to get a win," Evans said. "Not only that, but it's on the road. It don't matter who it is."