Coming off a rare game when he failed to make a single three-pointer and only attempted two shots beyond the arc during a loss Wednesday in Philadelphia, Joe Harris located his shooting touch to deliver 26 points and blow open a close game early in the fourth quarter to send the Nets on their way to a 130-115 victory over the Hornets Friday night at Barclays Center.
The Nets (38-18) remained second in the Eastern Conference, a game behind the 76ers, who beat the Clippers in Philadelphia.
"Philly is the second-best defense in the league and is a little tougher opponent, especially shorthanded a little bit," Nets coach Steve Nash said. "Tonight, Charlotte played really hard, they’re a good defensive team, but they give up threes. I think Joe got some rhythm, but overall, we shot over 50% from three and moved the ball pretty well and were efficient offensively other than the \[16\] turnovers."
Early in the fourth quarter, Harris scored the first 10 points in a 19-3 Nets surge, starting with a four-point play, that opened up 113-94 lead with 7:05 left to play. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were on the bench for most of that stretch as the Nets held the Hornets to just one field goal in the first five minutes of the quarter.
Reflecting on the difference from the 76ers game, when he missed the only two threes he was able to get off, Harris said, "Philly did a good job defensively. In total, we didn’t make too many threes [4 of 21]. It was one of our lowest of the season. It’s not that we live and die by threes, but when the three-ball is going for us, it opens up a number of other options offensively."
Harris was 6-for-9 on three-pointers, and the Nets hit 51.2% of their threes (21 of 41) for the game. Durant added 26 points and 11 assists, and Landry Shamet scored 20 points off the bench as the Nets reserves outscored Charlotte’s, 49-16.
Miles Bridges topped the Hornets (27-28) with 33 points, including a 6-of-10 performance from three-point range, Terry Rozier added 27 points and 10 assists and Vernon Carey Jr. totaled 21 points.
Durant and Blake Griffin sat out that game because it was the second night of a back-to-back set, but they returned against the Hornets and made a big difference. The Hornets led by as many as 14 points in the opening period, but the Nets opened the second quarter with an extended 25-12 run as Durant came alive to score eight of his 11 second-quarter points in that stretch to build a 54-47 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Nets were clinging to a three-point lead when Harris ignited the 19-3 surge that broke the game open. He was on the floor with second-unit players Griffin, Shamet, Nic Claxton and Bruce Brown, who Nash lauded for their defensive effort.
"I thought the second unit was outstanding just matching their intensity," Nash said. "I think you look at Blake, Landry, Nic, Bruce, it’s plus-22, plus-25, plus-14, plus-24. It was an outstanding effort from that group."