CHARLOTTE — On a surprisingly energetic Saturday night, the Brooklyn Nets need to stop the bleeding.
There’s a little over six minutes left in their game against the Hornets. Caris LeVert is stationed at the right wing, patiently waiting for D’Angelo Russell, who is being hounded by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as he jogs down the lane. Suddenly, he cuts up towards DeMarre Carroll on the left wing. The screen and flex cut is coming … until it isn’t.
Russell fakes the screen and shoots up to the top of the key, throwing Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker through a loop. The end-the-run play call is working to perfection. All that’s left is the pass-catch-shoot sequence. LeVert delivers the goods, but Russell loses focus and botches the catch. Walker recovers the ball and takes it all the way to the hoop. Russell blocks him, but is called for a goaltend after the ball hits the glass.
Spectrum Center is rocking as the Nets call timeout. In a game the Nets had controlled for the most part, the Hornets have all that momentum. Walker has come alive, while Russell looks flustered.
In response, Russell decides to take matters into his own hands. He fouls out Cody Zeller on a drive, then knocks down a pair of free throws. He dusts Kidd-Gilchrist off the bounce for a tough lay-in. A floater drops. A three is buried. Then, the dagger.