Hornets hold off late Nets rally, earn first victory

Gordon Hayward scored 28 points as the host Charlotte Hornets nearly blew a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter and held on for a 106-104 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night.

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Hayward helped the Hornets rebound from season-opening defeats to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder by making 12 of 20 shots. He scored nine points in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter when Charlotte took a 97-81 lead on a 3-pointer by Miles Bridges with 7:59 remaining.

After Bridges’ 3-pointer, the Hornets were outscored 23-9 the rest of the way but never lost the lead and held a five-point lead at 104-99 on a 3-pointer by Devonte’ Graham with 1:51 remaining. The Hornets gave the Nets a chance to tie or take the lead after P.J. Washington missed two free throws with 22.7 remaining to leave the score 104-102.

On the ensuing possession, Kevin Durant’s short fadeaway rolled off the rim with 7.4 seconds remaining and Charlotte’s Terry Rozier hit two free throws for a 106-102 edge with 5.3 seconds left. Brooklyn’s Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot hit a layup at the buzzer for the final margin.

Rozier added 19 points for the Hornets, who shot 44.8 percent (43 of 96). Washington posted a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while Graham added 13 points as Charlotte outscored the Nets 64-26 in the paint.

Durant led all scorers with 29 points, but the Nets were unable to get their third 3-0 start in team history. Kyrie Irving added 25 for the Nets, who shot 42.7 percent and allowed 23 points off 19 turnovers.

Joe Harris chipped in 13 on a night the Nets lost Spencer Dinwiddie to a right knee strain early in the third quarter.

Before holding on in the fourth, Charlotte ended the third quarter with a 12-5 run and held an 82-77 lead entering the final period after Washington converted a dunk with 41.6 seconds left.

The first quarter featured 10 lead changes as the Nets missed their final 10 shots and Charlotte took a 23-22 lead on Graham’s 3-pointer with 58.2 seconds left. Durant and Irving combined to score 17 of Brooklyn’s final 20 points of the first half and the Nets held a 50-48 lead at intermission

--Field Level Media