Derrick Favors’ emphatic transition jam that put the Nets up 10 and sent Boris Diaw to the ground could have been the blow that knocked out the Charlotte Bobcats.
But Diaw, and the rest of his team, got off the mat for a 16-4 run over the game’s final four-and-a-half minutes to defeat New Jersey 85-83 Wednesday night in Newark.
The Nets (2-2) led by 10 with 4:46 remaining in the fourth quarter following a Travis Outlaw 3-pointer, but Charlotte answered immediately with a shot from downtown by Stephen Jackson, shortly after Jackson had also answered Favors’ dunk with a 3-pointer. Gerald Wallace got to the free-throw line on the next two Charlotte possessions to cut New Jersey’s lead to 79-76. Devin Harris, who carried the Nets down the stretch with 10 fourth-quarter points, hit a driving layup, but Diaw sunk a three from the top of the key to cut the deficit to two. Charlotte followed with a tip-in by Nazr Mohammed to tie the game and two Jackson free throws to take an 83-81 lead with 1:35 remaining.
Brook Lopez, facing a double team, was then able to hit a heavily-contested hook shot to bring the Nets even. On the ensuing Charlotte possession, D.J. Augustin was able to get around Devin Harris and get to the free-throw line on what Nets coach Avery Johnson called “a cheap foul,” where he sunk his two go-ahead attempts. On New Jersey’s final possession, Harris came up short on a runner in the lane, and Lopez missed a tip-in attempt, but the Nets kept it alive to Outlaw in the right corner. Outlaw missed a baseline runner and then missed on a second-chance jumper from inside the paint. A mad scramble for the ball sent many Nets and Bobcats to the floor in the closing seconds of the game, but time expired before the Nets could get another look at the hoop.
The Bobcats’ comeback negated an impressive-to-that-point fourth quarter for New Jersey, who trailed 62-61 after three quarters. Harris, who left the game in the third quarter with a sprained shoulder, scored six straight points on two free throws and two makes inside the paint to inflate a 68-66 Nets lead to an eight point advantage. The Nets’ point guard either scored or assisted on 17 of the Nets’ 22 points in the fourth and finished the game with a team-high 19 points and eight assists.
Lopez got off to a hot start, scored 17 points and finished with five blocks, but shot just 6-of-17 from the field. Anthony Morrow added 11, as did Derrick Favors, who also chipped in eight rebounds. Troy Murphy, making his Nets debut after returning from a back injury that held him out the entire preseason, started and scored two points to go along with two rebounds in 18 minutes.
Diaw led the Bobcats (1-3) with 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Wallace, who left the floor with an ankle injury in the third quarter but returned in the fourth, scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Jackson shot just 2-of-12, but his key moments down the stretch added up to 12 points. Mohammed was 6-for-8 from the field and also notched 12 points.
Both teams shot 43 percent from the field, made five threes, and committed 16 turnovers. In the end, however, the Nets’ inability to clamp down on the perimeter let the Bobcats back in the game, much in the same fashion that the Nets came back on the Pistons and Kings in their two wins this season.
Notes: After the game, Johnson praised the effort of Favors but stressed that the Nets are going to need to see better production from their two and three spots if they’re going to compete with teams that have talented wing players such as Wallace and Jackson … Lopez left the court holding his left shoulder after he and a number of other players dove to the floor to try to secure the loose ball that occurred in the game’s final seconds. He appeared to be hurt, but said after the game that he felt fine, noting that the pain was due to Augustin falling on his arm. Lopez said he was thankful it wasn’t someone bigger than the Bobcats’ point guard who landed on him … Morrow started and played 39 minutes despite twisting his ankle in Tuesday’s practice and being considered a game-time decision for tonight’s contest … Terrence Williams was limited to 21 minutes while spending most of the night in foul trouble.