After two close losses, Nets eye first win at Charlotte

The good news for the Charlotte Hornets and Brooklyn Nets is that they are identifying areas to address right away this season. The teams meet Monday night in Charlotte while trying to get in a groove. “Readiness entails a lot of things,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. “You’ve got to be locked in on the right things.” The Hornets will end a season-opening, three-game homestand hoping to take a winning record on the road. Meanwhile, the Nets are winless in their first two games. In Friday’s loss to the Detroit Pistons, the Hornets’ Nick Richards, Mark Williams and P.J. Washington combined for eight rebounds. It is far from what the team needs. “The two biggest things we need to fix are the turnovers and the rebounding,” Clifford said. The Hornets, who rely on multiple players to man the post, don’t want to be in the habit of scrambling to keep up with interior production. “You’ve got to be locked in on the right things,” Clifford said. “It had to be rebounding.” Through Saturday, the Nets were only one of five teams without a victory. They’ll need clutch moments much like they’ve seen from their first two opponents. “We’ll grow to understand how to make plays like that,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Putting ourselves in position to win ballgames, we’ll continue to learn.” The Nets lost by one to the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers and by five on the road against the Dallas Mavericks. There was improvement, according to Vaughn. “Being in these positions and knowing how to respond to it, you just continue to grow from there,” Vaughn said. “I love putting our guys in this position and I look forward to it. … The way we tried to punch first (it was) very different from the first game.

“That response from the guys, extremely encouraged by that. I think we had a defensive mindset to start the game like we talked about. And then the execution, the approach that we had, that has to be who we are.” Cam Thomas has averaged 33 points per game, nearly twice as many as anyone else on the Brooklyn roster. But his work is needed on defense as well. “He stayed locked into our coverage, didn’t deviate from that,” Vaughn said. “Really showed some growth at that end of the court.” Charlotte will be Brooklyn’s second stop on a four-game road trip.

Dennis Smith Jr., who played 54 games for the Hornets last season, will be back in his home state but he has played only 12 minutes per game with the Nets. “Dennis been great for us,” Vaughn said. “You talk about a guy who is extremely competitive. His ability to really run the second unit in training camp and have a physicality and a competitiveness about him. He’s going to be really good for us.”

Terry Rozier moved to seventh on the franchise’s all-time scoring list, sitting at 5,322 points after Friday’s loss to the Pistons.