CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins felt Joe Johnson had a size matchup he could exploit against Gerald Henderson.
Johnson, nearly two inches taller and 30 pounds heavier than Henderson, took full advantage.
The Nets went to the 13-year NBA veteran in the low post early and often, and Johnson responded with 14 of his 22 points in the first quarter as Brooklyn built a big lead and rolled to an easy 114-87 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 13.
“They didn’t have a good matchup for Joe,” Hollins said. “… They had to come help on him and Joe had it going early.”
Johnson was 9 of 16 from the field and 4 of 6 from 3-point range as the Nets shot 16 of 23 from beyond the arc as a team.
“I was trying to be more aggressive and make plays and I got into a little rhythm early,” Johnson said. “It just tried to ride that wave in the first quarter.”
The Nets would end up riding it all game, building their lead to 26 points at the end of the third quarter and as many as 34 in the fourth.
Brooklyn moved the ball extremely well on offense, finishing with 29 assists while shooting a torrid 16 of 23 from 3-point range. The Nets had 25 assists the night before in an 88-70 win over Philadelphia.
“That shows that we moving the ball a little better from side-to-side,” Hollins said.
The Hornets’ 3-point defense has been sorely lacking of late, allowing opponents to make 62-of-132 attempts over the past six games.
Coach Steve Clifford said his undersized team has focused on packing the lane in recent games to help with rebounding, which has contributed to their struggles defending the 3-point shot.
It didn’t help that the Hornets were coming off a double-overtime loss the night before in Memphis and didn’t get back in to Charlotte until the early morning hours. Clifford said Al Jefferson, in particular, “looked tired” after playing 45 minutes on Dec. 12.
Deron Williams had 18 points and 10 assists, and Mason Plumlee outplayed Jefferson and finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Nets (10-12), who eclipsed 100 points for the first time in 11 games.
Alan Anderson was 4 of 5 from 3-point range and scored 17 points. Anderson and Bojan Bogdanovic combined to shoot 8-of-10 off the bench from 3-point range.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 15 points to lead the Hornets (6-17), who shot 36 percent from the field in their second straight loss.
The game was never close. The Nets took control from the onset, jumping out to a 30-12 lead behind Johnson.
The Nets often isolated the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Johnson on Henderson in the low post and played through him on nearly every offensive possession. Johnson was 6-of-9 from the field early, twice stepping out beyond the 3-point line to knock down open jumpers.
(STEVE REED, AP Sports Writer)