Nets vs. Hornets: Brooklyn Without Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert Against Charlotte

After undergoing surgery last Thursday to repair ligaments in his right thumb, Caris LeVert had the cast removed Tuesday morning and was at Brooklyn’s practice session afterwards.

LeVert last played a week ago in Phoenix and has missed the Nets’ last four games.

“Honestly it happened at the beginning of last year,” said LeVert, “and it kind of got re-aggravated in the first half at Phoenix.”

Spencer Dinwiddie dealt with a similar injury last season, and LeVert has checked in with his backcourt mate for some advice on the process. He’s still able to be active even while being limited with what he can do.

“I can still do lower-body lifts, some running, biking as well,” said LeVert. “Trying to just stay in shape as much as I can until I’m cleared to start dribbling and shooting.”

LeVert has been through the rehab process before, missing significant time last season due to a foot injury.

“I wouldn’t say frustration, it happens,” said LeVert. “Honestly, I’m glad it’s only a short amount of time, it’s not a long injury like last year. It’s not something I’ll be sidelined for a long stretch of time. I’m doing things to keep my mind focused on the game, I’m watching a lot of film and things like that. Just another road bump.”


Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said guard Kyrie Irving will be out for Wednesday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets. This will be the third straight game missed for Irving due to a shoulder impingement. With LeVert also out, that will make three straight games without the backcourt that started Brooklyn’s first nine games.

“It’s just what it is,” said Atkinson. “I don’t want to complain about it. I don’t want to use that as an excuse. Like I say all the time, I think a lot of NBA teams are dealing with injuries now and that’s just part of it. For our guys that haven’t been playing, to step up and for older guys to support them. We have to overcome that. We’re not in a great place with that right now, just overcoming a few absences. I felt like in the past we always figured that out when we had some guys out. I think we’ll do it again. I think it will take some time.”


After four losses in the last five games, Kenny Atkinson said the theme of Tuesday’s practice session was consistency. In two of the four losses, the Nets had 15-point leads on the road in Denver and Utah, but couldn’t close things out. From game-to-game, and segments within games, he’s looking for fewer downswings.

“I think we have to show it to them and see it; here’s three great ones,” said Atkinson. “We did the same thing great three times and then four and five … it’s focus, it’s concentration. It’s also how many reps you’ve gotten in whatever we’re doing. I do think when you’re not practicing as much there’s slippage. Just natural. It’s not training camp, ‘hey man, we’ve got two, three days to work on this and get better.’ There’s slippage. I think guys that have been in the program it’s naturally not as much. Guys new to the program, that’s not the way they’ve been doing it the last 10 years. Just all trying to get on the same page. That’s what we tried to do today. Get on the same page and reduce it back to our basics.”


The Hornets have shuffled the deck after Kemba Walker departed for the Celtics, picking up Boston’s Terry Rozier in a free agent exchange of point guards. Rozier is Charlotte’s second-leading scorer (16.4 points per game) and another newcomer, rookie forward P.J. Washington, is next, averaging 12.5 points and shooting 48.9 percent from 3-point range on 3.4 attempts per game.

It’s second-year guard Devonte Graham who has been the big surprise. A second-round pick who spent a chunk of time in the G League last season while averaging 4.7 points in 14.7 minutes over 46 games with Charlotte, Graham is leading Charlotte with 18.3 points per game while shooting 41.5 percent on 8.4 3-point attempts per game. He moved into the starting lineup a week ago and had nine threes and a game-winner against the Knicks on Saturday.

The Hornets are getting 36.3 percent of their points on 3-pointers, the fifth highest rate in the league, while ranking eighth in 3-pointers attempted (35.9), 3-pointers made (13.1), and 3-point percentage (36.5).

Defensively, the Hornets are last in the league opponent effective field goal percentage (56.1) and 27th in defensive rating (112.8). They’re also last in rebounds per game (40.9) and rebounding percentage (47.7).