Sixty-one games into the season, the Brooklyn Nets are still very much a work in progress.
On Wednesday night, they played a terrible first half and a brilliant second half in their 99-78 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena.
Trailing 53-43 at halftime, the Nets (35-26) came out and outscored the Bobcats (13-48) 56-25 in the second half and rolled to victory over the NBA's worst team to halt a two-game losing streak. Still, they shot just 36.4 percent in the opening two quarters and had to overcome a season-high 25 turnovers to beat Charlotte for the sixth straight time. Over its past three games, Brooklyn has turned it over a staggering 66 times.
"We took a step in the right direction in the second half today," point guard Deron Williams, who continued his second-half surge, scoring 20 points while dishing out eight assists, told YES Network. "We've been working really hard in practice on things. Hopefully, it'll just click."
With just 21 games left in the 2012-13 campaign before the playoffs, it had better click. Otherwise, the team's first postseason appearance since 2007 -- baring a significant collapse, anyway -- will be short-lived.
"We were careless as hell with the ball again, which really hurts us," Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said.
All the talk going into the game surrounded Carlesimo’s decision to tighten his rotation and go with 10 players instead of 11. As expected, Kris Humphries was the odd man out, receiving a DNP-coach's decision for the second time this season.
"I'm still more concerned with Joe (Johnson) and us being healthy and figuring out what we're going to do," Carlesimo said.
Johnson, who had scored just 22 points in two games since returning from a sore left heel injury, erupted for 22 points on Wednesday night on 8-for-14 shooting. He went 5-for-8 from 3-point range in a very reasonable 32 minutes, but did commit six turnovers.
That might fly against the Bobcats, but it won't against some of the league's more elite teams. On the bright side, though, the Nets played one of their best third quarters of the season, outscoring the Bobcats 28-9 while holding them to 3-for-19 shooting in the frame. Charlotte’s nine points were the fewest allowed by Brooklyn in any quarter this season.
Again, there's plenty to work on. And you can’t put too much stock into beating the Bobcats by 21. But, as Williams said, at least it was somewhat of a step in the right direction.