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Nets hang on to beat Bobcats

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[March 20, 2014]  NEW YORK  It is a matter of trust.
 
 It is what the Brooklyn Nets drew on when the Charlotte Bobcats made a late run and why one of the NBA's best teams since Jan. 1 pulled out a 104-99 win at Barclays Center on Wednesday night.

"We're staying calm, we're staying united and we're staying together," Nets guard Shaun Livingston said. "The game of basketball is about runs. Teams make runs and we just had to stay together during their run."

Brooklyn (35-31) led throughout the second half until Bobcats forward Chris Douglas-Roberts (13 points) buried a 3-pointer with 9:18 left in the fourth to tie the score at 77.

A three-point play by forward Josh McRoberts gave Charlotte (33-36) an 85-82 lead with 6:12 left in regulation.

The Nets remembered what happened in Washington on Saturday, when they squandered a late lead and fell 101-94. They were determined not to let that happen again Wednesday night.

"We learned from our mistakes in D.C.," Nets center Andray Blatche said. "We didn't panic, we stayed calm. Like (Nets coach Jason Kidd) said, we just continued to trust in one another."


Guard Deron Williams, who scored a game-high 25 points and had eight assists, responded with seven straight points to put Brooklyn back in front for good. He was one of six players to score in double figures as the Nets won their season-best 10th straight game at Barclays Center, their longest home winning streak since 12 consecutive victories in 2005.

Brooklyn is 17-2 in its last 19 home games.

"I think that is the key for us, the trust factor, both offensively and defensively," said Williams, who scored 53 combined points in the last two games. "I think that's something we didn't have early on in the season and I think that's why we struggled a little bit. But I think now we trust each other."

Forward Joe Johnson had 20 points and eight rebounds, Livingston had 17 points and one steal, extending his career-high streak to 11 games with at least one steal. Blatche had 13 points and five boards and center Mason Plumlee added 11 points and seven rebounds for the Nets, who won five out of their last six games.

While the Nets shared the offensive load, they were also stellar defensively. Blatche held center Al Jefferson (12 rebounds) to 18 points and Williams limited guard Kemba Walker to seven points, 10 less than his season average.

"He's very crafty with the ball, his cross-overs and step-backs," said Williams, who has one or more steals in 16 straight games  the longest active streak in the NBA. "I just wanted to keep him in front of me as best as possible and contest his shots."

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Walker, who shot 2-of-8 from the field, had a chance to tie it, but missed a 3-pointer with 59 seconds left in the fourth. Williams answered with an 18-footer with 37.8 seconds remaining to put Brooklyn in front 100-95.

"I just think that our focus went down throughout the game, but we still played well enough to win," Jefferson said. "We made too many mistakes that we are not supposed to make."

Brooklyn scored 21 points off Charlotte's 15 turnovers, while matching a season-low of seven turnovers, first set in Sacramento on Nov. 3. The Nets also held an opponent to less than 100 points at home for a ninth straight game, their longest streak since 2006.

"Brooklyn is good at forcing turnovers, but we can't have the unforced ones that we had in the fourth quarter," Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said.

NOTES: Nets F Kevin Garnett missed his ninth consecutive game with back spasms. Brooklyn F Andrei Kirilenko, who missed practice Tuesday with a bruised left big toe and was listed as a game-time decision, suited up. ... The Nets play the Boston Celtics on Friday in the finale of a three-game homestand. The home team will debut blue and gray sleeved jerseys that pay homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers. "I don't know if I could have worn one as a player," Nets coach Jason Kidd said of the sleeved jerseys. "I think it's kind of cool though for the players. I think the players are excited about it and they're cool. As long as they shoot the ball well, nobody complains." ... Charlotte F Chris Douglas-Roberts scored in double figures for the seventh time in 10 games. ... The Bobcats return to Charlotte to face the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday in the first of three consecutive home games, including a rematch with Brooklyn on March 26.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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