Durant, Nets slide past Hornets for 98-94 win

Charlotte has now lost its past four games

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) looks at the clock during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Rusty Jones)

CHARLOTTE — Kevin Durant scored five of his 27 points in the final minute and the Brooklyn Nets erased the Charlotte Hornets’ fourth-quarter lead and pulled out a 98-94 victory Saturday night at Spectrum Center.

The Hornets (3-7) held a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter but dropped their fourth straight game.

The Nets (4-6) took advantage of Charlotte’s defensive mistakes in the closing stretch, particularly during a lapse in coverage when Durant was able to extend a play and make a late shot.

“We played hard but you’ve got to get that rebound though,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “That’s the game. You play harder right there and that’s the difference between winning player, losing player and winning team, losing team. We can’t keep talking about how we can’t get rebounds when the ball’s right there.”

Terry Rozier, in his first game back from an ankle injury, had 25 points and seven rebounds for Charlotte, while Kelly Oubre Jr. and P.J. Washington each added 18 points; Mason Plumlee had nine points with 11 rebounds, and Nick Richards had 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

Still without LaMelo Ball, Cody Martin and, most recently, Gordon Hayward, the shorthanded Hornets sustained another injury on Saturday when Dennis Smith Jr. went down after just seven minutes on the court. Smith has been averaging 11.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.2 assists so far this season, providing solid depth at the guard position.

“Hopefully he’s OK, but I have no idea because the game just ended,” Clifford said of Smith. “I know he couldn’t come back and obviously he’s tough. We can’t afford to lose him, so hopefully it’s not serious.”

Brooklyn held an eight-point lead at halftime were outscored by nine points by the Hornets in the third quarter as Rozier, Oubre and Washington each found success behind the 3-point line.

On Monday, Charlotte will host the Washington Wizards (4-5), who lost to Brooklyn by 42 points on Friday.