NBA regular season

Hayward shines as Hornets hand Nets first loss of NBA season

Agence France-Presse

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Hayward shines as Hornets hand Nets first loss of NBA season

BIG GUNS. New Hornets addition Gordon Hayward gets guarded by Nets star Kyrie Irving during the final quarter of their early season clash.

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

‘We finally got it together,’ says Gordon Hayward as the Hornets score an early upset

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, December 27 (Monday, December 28, Philippine time).

Terry Rozier – Hayward’s former teammate in Boston – added 19 points and PJ Washington chipped in 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Hornets, who held the Nets to 42.7% 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 2008-2009 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 3 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 3rd quarter with a right knee strain and didn’t return.

Referee JT Orr departed with a lower leg injury in the 4th 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.

The Mavericks took full advantage of the absence of injured Clippers star Kawhi Leonard in a 124-73 rout of the LA team. (READ: Mavs set first-half record in manhandling of Clippers)

Why chance it?’ 

The reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers seemed not to feel the absence of Davis in a 127-91 romp past the Minnesota Timberwolves – who were without star Karl-Anthony Towns a day after he dislocated his left wrist in a win over Utah.

Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 20 points. LeBron James added 18 with 9 rebounds and 5 assists and sat out the 4th quarter with the game in hand.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, with 24 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals from Andre Drummond, cruised to a 118-94 victory over a Philadelphia 76ers team missing big man Joel Embiid, who was a late scratch with a tight back.

“We just thought, why chance it this early in the season,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “Nothing to be concerned about.”

The Golden State Warriors, who were again without Draymond Green – and may have lost center Marquese Chriss for the season with a broken right leg and ankle injury suffered in practice – shook off the bad news to edge the Bulls in Chicago 129-128.

Stephen Curry delivered 36 points with 5 three-pointers.

His first long-range shot of the night made him just the third player, along with Ray Allen and Reggie Miller, to make 2,500 three-pointers in their career.

But it was Damion Lee who drilled the game-winner from beyond the arc with 2.3 seconds remaining, taking over as the Bulls prevented Curry from getting his hands on an inbounds pass.

It was a blowout in New York, where the Knicks stunned Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks, 130-110. –

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