CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kevin Durant scored 27 points and the Brooklyn Nets erased a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to beat the shorthanded Charlotte Hornets 98-94 on Saturday night, moving to 2-0 since the suspension of Kyrie Irving.
Cam Thomas added 21 points for the Nets and Nic Claxton had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Terry Rozier returned from a seven-game absence and led Charlotte with 25 points on six 3-pointers. PJ Washington and Kelly Oubre Jr. each had 18 points for the Hornets, who have dropped four in a row since beating the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
The Nets followed a run in Washington by picking up the win on the second night of a straight road.
“I think we rallied around each other,” Durant said. “It’s been a tough week for us and it’s good to get back into the game. Once the ball is knocked down (everything else) goes out the window. We were just waiting to get back into the game. We showed some pride .”
Thomas had played just 15 minutes in the Nets’ first eight games of the season. But the second-year guard has stepped up in the past two games, racking up 38 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in Irving’s absence.
“The first two weeks of the season were tough for me, so for Coach to trust me to close the game and play me a good number of minutes the last two games, I can’t thank him enough for that,” , said Thomas.
The Hornets outscored the Nets 17-6 to open the fourth quarter to take an 11-point lead and looked set to retire.
Rozier knocked down 3 points on consecutive possessions, Nick Richards added a three-point play and Rozier made a free throw after Claxton received a technical foul for contesting a call.
But the Nets came back strong behind Durant and Thomas. They cut the lead to two from a Joe Harris corner 3, then leveled the game when Thomas stole a midfield pass and was fouled on a lay-up attempt. He connected on both free throws with 2:39 remaining.
Thomas gave the Nets the lead on a drive before Washington knocked down a 3 off the top of the key to give Charlotte a 92-91 lead with about a minute to play.
But Durant took over from there.
The 12-time NBA All-Star made a big 3 from the right wing to give the Nets the lead for good and added a base jumper to push Brooklyn’s lead to four. Several of Brooklyn’s points came from second-chance points through offensive rebounds and sending offs.
Mason Plumlee got an offensive rebound on a Rozier 3-pointer with 27 seconds left to cut the lead in half before Thomas hit home two free throws to make it a two-possession game with 14 seconds left.
Rozier missed two 3s on the other side and the Nets (4-6) escaped with the win.
“It hurts,” Oubre said of losing a double-digit fourth-quarter lead. “We have to watch the film and learn from it and learn from it.”
Many game stats were still unavailable more than an hour after the game ended after the league’s stats recording system, Genius Stats, crashed midway through the third quarter at the Spectrum Center and n has ever been restored.
Hornets public relations officials scrambled to get as many stats as possible by hand while watching a movie.
After the game, Durant was talking about his team’s strong defense and said, “I wish I had a stat sheet in front of me,” to which a reporter replied, “Yeah, us too.”
Nets: Seth Curry returned to action while Ben Simmons sat out for the fourth game in a row with left knee pain.
Hornets: Dennis Smith Jr., who filled the point guard admirably in the absence of Rozier and LaMelo Ball, left the game in the first half with a sprained left ankle and did not return. Ball missed nine games and Rozier lost seven with a sprained ankle. “I’m super excited to get him back and I miss him,” Oubre said of Ball. “He is another part of our team. … But I want him to be healthy because he has a long career ahead of him.”
Nets: In Dallas on Monday night.
Hornets: Washington host Monday night.
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