NEW YORK (AP) — Miles Bridges had 32 points and nine rebounds, Ish Smith added 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and the Charlotte Hornets improved to 3-0 for the first time by beating the Brooklyn Nets 111-95 on Sunday.
LaMelo Ball had 18 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Hornets, but it was their backups who led them in a dominant final quarter. Cody Martin had eight of his 12 in the final 12 minutes.
Before that, it was another night for Bridges, who had his second 30-point outing in the first three games and finished a point shy of his career high.
Kevin Durant scored 38 points for the Nets, who fell to 1-2. James Harden had 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Brooklyn.
It was a disappointing home opener that featured demonstrators outside the arena supporting Nets guard Kyrie Irving and protesting New York’s vaccine mandate.
The Nets are not allowing Irving to play while he is not vaccinated against COVID-19, which the city's mandate says pro athletes playing for a local team must do.
The Hornets won their first two largely through their offense, with a team-best 246 points in their first two games. This one was done through defense, outscoring the Nets 61-37 in the second half.
Leading by four, they broke it open with a 10-5 spurt, with Smith and Martin scoring all the points.
Hornets: The Hornets played without Terry Rozier because of a sprained ankle. ... Charlotte outscored Brooklyn 29-20 in the third quarter. It was the first time the Hornets were held below 30 in the period, having scored a league-best 69 points in the third quarter through two games.
Nets: Patty Mills missed his first four 3-pointers after starting 10 for 10 this season. Brooklyn opened a six-game homestand. The Nets follow that with a six-game road trip. ... The Nets were 28-8 at home last season, their best winning percentage in Brooklyn.
PROTEST ON THE PLAZA
A small group of demonstrators broke through barriers and got all the way to the front entrance of Barclays Center, forcing arena officials to briefly close the doors while fans were trying to get in. A spokeswoman for the arena said that “Only ticketed guests were able to enter the building and the game proceeded according to schedule.”
Hornets: Host Boston on Monday night.
Nets: Host Washington on Monday night.
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Brian Mahoney, The Associated Press