Hornets 96, Nets 82
Posted March 3, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Chuck Person beat the New Jersey Nets on the court and then tore them apart in the locker room.
Person scored a season-high 21 points, hit five of Charlotte's 10 3-pointers and then ripped New Jersey forward Keith Van Horn after leading the Hornets to a 96-82 victory over the slumping Nets.
There was nothing personal in Person's comments about Van Horn, just his experienced observations that the struggling Nets rely too much on the second-year power forward.
Van Horn had 28 points on Thursday, hitting 10 of 26 shots from the field.
``They go to Van Horn way too much,'' Person said after the Hornets (4-10) won for the first time in seven road games. ``He touches the ball every time down the court. If you get the ball that many times, you don't make your teammates better.
``Guys are open in front of him and to the side of him - give it to them,'' said Person, who was seven of 13 from the field with one assist. ``Share it, you're going to get your touches. Make your teammates better.''
The Nets (3-12) could use any advice at this point, which might be rock bottom for the season. They have lost eight times in nine games, including five straight at home.
Bobby Phills scored 20 points for the Hornets. J.R. Reid had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Derrick Coleman had 11 points and 15 rebounds against his original NBA team.
Kerry Kittles added 17 for the Nets, who got within seven points in the fourth quarter before falling.
The losing streak, which has led some to call for the firing of coach John Calipari, comes in a season in which the Nets were expected to be serious contenders. The latest loss came against an injury-riddled team playing its second game in as many nights.
``I'm going crazy trying to find every avenue I can to get these guys to do what they do,'' Calipari said. ``I'm trying to take the heat off them and put it on me.
``I'm doing what I can, but the competitiveness has to come from within, it can't come from me,'' he added. ``It's hard in this league to will teams to win.''
Van Horn is well aware of the situation, and he sat down with Calipari after the game for a heart-to-heart talk.
``I just wanted to make sure Cal understood where I was coming from and that he understood that we as a team are trying to stick together. The time clock is ticking; maybe we can fight through this thing and salvage this season.''
Charlotte hit nine straight shots, including three 3-pointers by Person, in opening a 17-point first quarter lead. The Nets cut the lead to four points in the second quarter, but the Hornets rebuilt the margin to 11 at the half, and it ballooned to 25 in the third quarter.
``This was tough, this was embarrassing,'' guard Doug Overton said after scoring 13 points in his first game with the Nets. ``You don't want to play at home like that, you don't want to play anywhere like that. You want to come out and be competitive, especially against a team struggling like Charlotte.''
As the Nets fell behind by 21 points with 5:21 left in the third quarter, one fan stood up during a time out and held up a sign: ``We need a new coach.''
Calipari had other things to worry about. Center Jayson Williams reinjured his left thumb in the first half and did not return for the second half. Williams will wear a soft cast and is expected to play against the Knicks on Sunday. Notes: The Nets will wear their alternate road uniform a minimum of eight times this season. Fans attending the game received a Jayson Williams coin commemorating his All-Star selection last season. ... Nets starting point guard Sam Cassell missed his 11th game with a sprained ankle. ... The rebound totals were season-highs for Coleman and Reid. ... The Nets announced a crowd of 14,728, but it didn't seem there were that many in the building. ... Person didn't score in 25 minutes on Wednesday night against Orlando.