The Brooklyn Nets have shown a renewed focus on the defensive end to get back on track following their longest losing streak of 2014.
They'll look to continue that upward trend against the Charlotte Bobcats, who are coming off a rare scoring surge.
The Nets seek their fourth consecutive home victory while extending their winning streak there against the Bobcats to five Wednesday night.
After allowing 92.9 points per game and a 41.5 field-goal percentage during a seven-game home winning streak, Brooklyn (23-26) slipped by surrendering 224 points on 55.1 percent shooting in consecutive losses in late January.
Since then, the Nets have tightened things up, allowing an average of 90.3 points and a 42.3 field-goal percentage in three straight victories at Barclays Center.
The Nets bounced back from a 111-95 loss at Detroit on Friday with one of their best defensive performances in a 93-81 home win over New Orleans on Sunday. They limited the Pelicans to just 28 first-half points - their lowest total since allowing 28 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 27, 2005.
Brooklyn, 13-5 overall and 9-2 at home in 2014, appears to have a decent chance to keep it going against Charlotte, which ranks near the bottom of the league at 94.8 points per game.
The Bobcats (23-29), however, shot a season-best 54.9 percent - including 12 for 24 from 3-point range - in a 114-89 rout of visiting Dallas on Tuesday.
Al Jefferson continued his outstanding stretch with 30 points on 14-of-23 shooting as Charlotte won for the fourth time in six games and moved within 1 1/2 games of the seventh-place Nets in the Eastern Conference.
"It was really important to get this one and go to Brooklyn and beat a seed ahead of us," Jefferson said.
Jefferson, who missed a 95-91 home win over Brooklyn on Nov. 20 because of an ankle injury, has been a force lately with 27.5 points per game while shooting 55.4 percent over his last 14.
Kemba Walker had 31 points in the November win that snapped a seven-game losing streak in this series, but his status is uncertain after leaving Tuesday's win with stiffness in his Achilles.
Nets guard Deron Williams had 32 points in a 105-96 victory in the most recent matchup in Brooklyn on April 6. The point guard has averaged 22.3 points in four home meetings since joining the Nets.
Joe Johnson scored 15 in that contest and finished with 19 while hitting 4 of 9 from 3-point range in the Nov. 20 loss at Charlotte. His career 20.9 scoring average versus the Bobcats is the highest of any opponent he's faced.
The Nets, who visit Chicago on Thursday before the All-Star break, could use more production from a starting unit that totaled 34 points without a double-digit scorer against the Pelicans.
Williams and Johnson combined for 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting, though rookie Mason Plumlee finished with a career-high 22 points and matched his best with 13 rebounds in a strong effort by the reserves.
"Any time we can rest our older guys - it's no secret we're old, so we look at this as a win in a couple of ways," Plumlee said. "We can rest them and keep them fresh, and going into the All-Star break that's good."
The Bobcats have dropped four straight road meetings by an average of 12.0 points.
The Associated Press News Service
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