(258796)

Before taking the court against the Charlotte Hornets last night (Wednesday) at Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets, a team rebuilding, have been impressive. They defeated two sub par teams, the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, and the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday, both at home. Both wins were against sub par teams. Wins against sub par, poorly performing teams separate Brooklyn, also a sub par team, or any rebuilding team, like Brooklyn, from all of the other sub par ones. It shows progress, positive steps.

Even in their 120 to 116 loss to the Philadelphia 76’ers on Friday, Brooklyn was valiant, taking the Sixers, now a 6-seed, and a potentially higher one, after several years of lining the bottom of the Eastern Conference, to the final few remaining minutes of the game before Philly was able to close out a victory. They’d been on the losing side of victories like these many times over the last few years. Their motto has been, “Trust The Process” as they stacked losses and draft picks.

Brooklyn led at the half 58-55, and had built a 13-point lead in the first two quarters before it was cut down. They were only outscored by eight points in the third quarter, Philadelphia’s only dominant quarter, and by only one in the fourth.

The Nets strong play in the first and fourth quarters against Dallas put them over in their 114 to 106 win. Their 3-point 118-115 win against Memphis on Monday was their first back-to-back win since mid January.

Brooklyn benefited from the double-digit scoring of Caris LeVert, 22-points off the bench, 22 from Allen Crabbe, 18 from DeMarre Carroll, 16 from Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (and 12-rebounds), and 14 from DeMarcus Russell.

Against Dallas, Russell dropped 22, 6-assists, 23 and 5-rebounds from Hollis-Jefferson, and a double-double from Carroll, 19-points, 12-rebounds. But what about last night? What about Charlotte? What about that second half?

Charlotte outscored Brooklyn by 25-points in the second half, 36-18 in the fourth quarter. They came alive on offense. Brooklyn, who played strong first half defense, went to sleep defensively in the second half, and they missed shots.

“We’ve done a great job the last two games, locking down in the fourth quarter, and tonight, we didn’t,” said Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn’s head coach.

Brooklyn was plus 12 in the first quarter, and plus 7 in the second quarter, leading the Charlotte Hornets at the start of the third, 62-43. Brooklyn led by twelve to start the fourth. They held, or either Dwight Howard held himself to just four points before he exploded, ending the game with 32 points, 30 rebounds.

Howard is the first NBA player with a 30-point, 30-rebound game since Kevin Love’s 30-30 game in 2010, and the first player with a 30-30 game against the Nets since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 37-points, 30-rebounds in 1978, 30 years ago.

“It was incredible to see those kinds of numbers and be a part of it,” said Kemba Walker, Howard’s teammate. “It was crazy.” Walker, from the Bronx, dropped 10 of his 24-points in the fourth quarter.

The Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are upcoming on the Nets schedule. Toronto, on the road tomorrow (Friday), Cleveland in Brooklyn on Sunday. On paper, these teams are more difficult for Brooklyn to defend in each quarter. Both playoff bound, Toronto is at the top of the Eastern Conference, and Cleveland, with LeBron James, is currently the 3-seed.