Hayward shines as Hornets hand Nets first loss of NBA season

Published December 28, 2020, 12:45 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

Gordon Hayward of the Charlotte Hornets is guarded by Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets during the fourth quarter of their game at Spectrum Center on December 27, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

Gordon Hayward scored 28 points as the Charlotte Hornets cooled off red-hot Brooklyn, handing the Nets their first defeat of the young NBA season, 106-104, on Sunday.

Terry Rozier — Hayward’s former teammate in Boston — added 19 points and P.J. Washington chipped in 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Hornets, who held the Nets to 42.7 percent shooting.

“Unbelievable win for us,” said Hayward, who joined the Hornets from Boston in the abbreviated off-season. “Especially after dropping the first two, to come out here on a back to back and beat Brooklyn — just proud of our effort, man, proud of our defense.

“We finally got it together it seemed like on that end.”

Kevin Durant led the Nets with 29 points and Kyrie Irving had 25 for Brooklyn, which had become the first club since the 2008-09 Lakers to win their first two games by 20 or more points.

It looked like the Nets might pull out a close one when they erased a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit, twice trimming the gap to two points with less than three minutes to play.

Durant missed a fadeaway jumper with 7.4 seconds left and Rozier made two free throws that sealed the win.

The Hornets were playing without center Cody Zeller, who broke his left hand in their season opener.

Brooklyn guard Spencer Dinwiddie departed in the third quarter with a right knee strain and didn’t return.

Referee J.T. Orr departed with a lower leg injury in the fourth quarter.

Injuries were making an impact around the league early in the season, which started on December 22 after the shortest off-season in NBA history.

The Minnesota Timberwolves were without star Karl-Anthony Towns for their clash with the reigning champion Lakers in Los Angeles, announcing before the game he had dislocated his left wrist against the Utah Jazz on Saturday and would be evaluated weekly.

The Lakers were without star forward Anthony Davis, who was nursing a calf contusion suffered in their season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and aggravated in a Christmas Day win over the Dallas Mavericks.