CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One night after ending their 11-game losing streak, the Nets found themselves locked in a stretch duel Saturday night at Spectrum Center. But they hadn’t won back-to-back games all season, and that streak remained intact as they fell to a fourth-quarter flurry of seven three-pointers, including one back-breaker that turned into a four-point play, in a 112-105 loss to the Hornets.
Tied entering the fourth quarter, the teams traded the lead nine times in less than nine minutes before Nicolas Batum converted a four-point play with 3:21 left to give the Hornets a 101-98 lead. He was fouled by Randy Foye, who felt the whistle should have gone the other way.
“Actually, he fouled me,” Foye said. “I just was chasing him. He stopped and popped me in the eye. At first, I thought it was a [Hornets] foul. When the ball went in, the crowd went crazy. I’m saying to myself, ‘Oh, man.’ He skinned my eye. It was contact, but he created it.”
When Batum followed a Nets miss with another three at the 2:50 mark for a six-point lead, the Hornets had the Nets on the ropes. A three by Kemba Walker made it a 10-0 run for a 107-98 Charlotte lead, and the Nets couldn’t recover.
“Both of them were big shots,” Foye said. “[Batum] got the ‘and-one’ on me, and then he hit another one and that was the big one. Then it seemed like we were battling uphill. But tonight we did a great job coming off a back-to-back. We’re moving in the right direction the way we’re playing. It’s cool to see it starting to develop.”
Brook Lopez led five Nets (9-34) in double figures with 24 points. Bojan Bogdanovic added 16, Quincy Acy scored 14, Sean Kilpatrick had 13 plus five assists and Foye totaled 11 with five assists. The Nets had a season-high 30 assists on 38 made field goals.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Ramon Sessions topped the Hornets (23-21) with 17 points apiece and Batum and Walker each scored 16. The Nets made 17 three-pointers to the Hornets’ 14, but Charlotte shot 7-for-11 from deep in the fourth.
Coming off their best performance of the season, a game in which they scored a season-high 143 points and won by 29 Friday night in New Orleans, the challenge for the Nets was to show they could do it again.
They stumbled out of the gate, allowing a 16-0 run, including six points by Kidd-Gilchrist, that gave Charlotte a 16-4 lead.
Just before the end of the first quarter, the Hornets pushed their lead to 17 points, and they still were up 14 at halftime.
“I think we are all a little upset with how we came out in the first half,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “At halftime, we challenged them to come out with more physicality. I was happy the guys came out in the third quarter and responded and got themselves back in the game and had a chance at the end. Too bad we couldn’t close it out.”
The Nets outscored Charlotte 35-21 in the third period to go to the final quarter tied at 81.
“We definitely were out there fighting,” Lopez said. “I think that’s what we’ve got to take away from this one and [Friday] night’s game as well. We came in and were exhausted [and] had a bad first quarter, but we responded. We definitely made it a game, and that’s the way we’ve got to play every night.”