NEW YORK (AP) — Al Jefferson and Gerald Henderson each scored 19 points, Marvin Williams had 18 and the Charlotte Hornets routed the Brooklyn Nets 115-91 on Wednesday night in a key matchup in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Mo Williams added 14 points and a season-high 14 assists for the Hornets, who rode a blistering start to their third straight win, breaking a tie with the Nets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist finished with 10 points, his career-best seventh straight game in double figures, and 13 rebounds as Charlotte battered Brooklyn on the boards and led by as many as 32 points.
Deron Williams scored 12 points for the Nets, who defeated West contenders Dallas and Golden State in their previous two games.
But they had nothing in a game that would’ve given them the season-series tiebreaker against the Hornets, who tied the series at 1 with a game remaining.
Mindful of the Nets’ strong first-quarter play — they came in shooting an NBA-best 50.1 percent in the period — Charlotte coach Steve Clifford changed his starting lineup, even though the Hornets had all five starters in double figures in three straight games, something they hadn’t done in six years.
Marvin Williams replaced Cody Zeller to match up with Brooklyn’s smaller lineup, and he had 10 points and made all three shots in the first quarter to help trigger Charlotte’s sizzling start.
The Hornets ran off 11 in a row for a 13-2 lead, then hit the Nets later in the period with a 13-0 run that made it 29-6. By the time Jefferson powerfully dunked while knocking Deron Williams backward, they were 13 of 15 from the field.
It was 35-15 after one, and when the Nets got within 12 early in the third, Charlotte responded with 10 straight points for a 68-46 lead.
Clifford said he thought the Nets had perhaps the most weapons of any of the six teams fighting for the East’s final two playoff spots, but most of them were misfiring Wednesday. Joe Johnson was 1 of 6 and fellow starting forward Alan Anderson went 1 of 5 as they were outscored 28-4 by Marvin Williams and Kidd-Gilchrist.
Hornets: Kemba Walker was cleared to resume all basketball activities after visiting the doctor who performed surgery on his left knee Jan. 28, moving him closer to a return. Clifford said the Hornets will practice again Saturday and Walker’s return to action will depend on how the knee responds to an increased workload. Walker leads the Hornets with 18.8 points per game. … Associate head coach Patrick Ewing said he will attend the funeral Friday for former Knicks teammate Anthony Mason, who died Saturday at 48.
Nets: Brooklyn had won 10 in a row at home in March. The Nets were 9-0 at Barclays Center in March 2014. … The Nets had a six-game home winning streak against Charlotte that dated to its New Jersey days snapped.
Hornets: Host Toronto on Friday.
Nets: Host Phoenix on Friday.
This article was written by Brian Mahoney from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.