The Brooklyn Nets blew a 19-point lead Saturday, but D’Angelo Russell scored 14 points in the final 3:24 as the Nets beat the Charlotte Hornets 117-115.
D’Angelo Russell provided the offense in the late going for the Brooklyn Nets before Caris LeVert saved the game defensively, blocking Kemba Walker‘s potential go-ahead 3-pointer with his right elbow to preserve the Nets’ 117-115 win over the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center Saturday night.
LeVert stepped in front of Walker’s pull-up attempt and managed to block the shot with his right elbow, while also managing not to foul the flailing All-Star guard as the ball bounded away.
But it was Russell who got the bragging rights in the battle the fellow All-Star Walker and the Nets’ point guard did it in the most clutch way imaginable.
Russell scored all 14 of his fourth-quarter points in the final 3:24, including Brooklyn’s final 12, finishing with 40 points — on his 23rd birthday — to match his career-high.
Russell would not let the Nets falter, even as they watched Charlotte chip away at a lead that grew to 19 points early in the second half until the Hornets went on an extended 24-4 run bridging the third and fourth quarter to reclaim the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
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Charlotte went up eight on Walker’s 3-pointer with 3:12 remaining before it was Brooklyn’s turn to start chipping away. Joe Harris hit a pair of free throws and after a Charlotte turnover, Russell hit a driving layup to cut the deficit to four at 111-107.
Marvin Williams hit a floater in the lane to put the Hornets back up six, with Russell answering with a floater of his own on the next possession.
Tony Parker committed his second turnover in three possessions, with Harris picking up the steal and Russell draining a 3-pointer with 1:29 remaining to cut the Hornets’ lead to 113-112.
After Walker missed on a long jumper from 2, Russell drained a mid-range J to give the lead back to the Nets, 114-113 with 59.3 second remaining. Walker responded with a layup inside Jarrett Allen on the other end to give Charlotte back the lead with 48.8 seconds to go.
With 39.8 seconds remaining, Russell pulled up from deep-deep 3-point range and splashed it for a two-point Brooklyn lead at 117-115.
Walker missed a 3 with 32.6 seconds left and Brooklyn wound down the shot clock before Russell missed a deep 3 with 8.1 seconds left. The Hornets got the rebound, but Walker started up court before Charlotte coach James Borrego took a timeout.
So instead of being able to advance the ball to midcourt, the Hornets had to put the ball in play from the sideline about 90 feet from their basket. LeVert took a foul — Brooklyn had one to give — and Charlotte again inbounded with five seconds to go.
Walker beat LeVert to a spot on the right wing above the break, but hesitated on the shot. LeVert got there as Walker brought the ball into shooting position and Walker appeared to bring the ball right up into LeVert’s elbow. There was no call and Brooklyn escaped with the victory.
It was a huge one for the Nets (31-30), who opened their lead back to two games over the eighth-place Hornets (28-31) in the Eastern Conference. The Detroit Pistons (28-30) leapfrogged the Hornets into seventh place, 1½ games behind the Nets, with their 119-96 throttling of the Miami Heat on South Beach Saturday night.
The Orlando Magic (27-33), idle Saturday, moved into ninth place, 1½ games in back of Charlotte, while the Heat (26-32) fell into 10th, percentage points behind Orlando.
Brooklyn shot 46 percent (40-for-87) on the night, hitting 17-of-43 (39.5 percent) from 3-point range. The teams battled to a 42-42 deadlock on the boards and a 12-12 draw on second-chance points.
The Nets committed 13 turnovers to the Hornets’ 12, but had an 18-12 edge in points off those miscues.
Russell added seven assists with his 40 points on 14-of-31 shooting, including 6-of-15 from deep. Jarrett Allen went for 11 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, Ed Davis had 10 rebounds and Harris dropped in 19 points on 5-of-7 shooting, hitting 3-of-4 from long range.
Walker scored 28 of his 32 points for Charlotte in the second half, but was just 12-for-28 overall and 6-for-15 from 3. Parker added 21 points and five assists off the bench. Cody Zeller had 13 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out and Williams finished with 11 points and two blocks.
By coming back for the win, Brooklyn won its 19th straight game in which it held a lead of at least 10 points and is now 27-8 in those games this season.
The Nets return home Monday night for the first of three straight home games when they host the San Antonio Spurs (33-27), who will be coming in on the second game of a road back-to-back after playing at Madison Square Garden Sunday against the New York Knicks.
Here are three takeaways from Brooklyn’s win at Charlotte.