NEW YORK -- For most of his tenure as the interim head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, P.J. Carlesimo toyed with the idea of using both of his centers, namely All-Star standout Brook Lopez and his backup Andray Blatche, at the same time, but never really did during a game.
That was until Tuesday night, when the New Orleans Hornets came back from a 13-point first half deficit to tie the game late in the third quarter.
Carlesimo inserted Blatche at the power forward slot to play alongside of Lopez and the move paid big dividends, as Lopez scored 26 points and Blatche added 18, leading the Nets to a big 108-98 victory over the Hornets at the Barclays Center.
"I thought there was good interaction between the two of them," said Carlesimo, whose team held onto fourth place in the NBA Eastern Conference standings with their fourth win in five games. "They did a little bit of everything out there together, score, rebound, defend, even pass the ball. I have wanted to look at it for a while. They were both very aggressive and made work easier on the offensive end."
Blatche's rebound basket as the third quarter buzzer sounded gave the Nets (38-27) the lead for good. Lopez had a monstrous dunk in the fourth quarter over his twin brother Robin that gave the Nets a double-digit lead down the stretch.
"It was just a matter of playing together more," Lopez said. "But we came together rather quickly. He's a great passed and playing with him on the floor makes everyone play a little more honest. No question, playing with Dray enables us to do a lot of different things."
"I feel we can play together and when we get more practice time, we can play better together," Blatche said. "We had to make sure we got this one, because we're going off on a two-week trip. I think we're a better team, me and him playing together. We're both the same type of player.
"Offensively, I can play off him and he can easily score off me. I love it. It spreads the floor more and gets Deron (Williams) to the rim more."
Williams had 21 points and 13 assists, continuing his solid play of late. He's averaged 25 points per game over the last eight games.
"I think having them out there together makes a big difference," Williams said. "It opens it up for everyone. When defenses pay attention to those guys, I can just play basketball."
Carlesimo liked the performance he got from Williams.
"Never mind that he had 21 and 13, he also only had two turnovers," Carlesimo said. "He's managing the game very well now. He's also being a lot more vocal, both on the bench and in the huddle. It's all a good thing."
Besides Lopez, Williams and Blatche, the Nets received 14 points from MarShon Brooks and 13 from Gerald Wallace. It was the first time that Brooks reached double figures since Feb. 1, a streak of 18 games, and it was the first time that Wallace scored more than 10 points since Feb. 11, a string of 12 games.
"I think today, I just let the game come to me," Brooks said. "I didn't force anything and I let Deron just run the show."
The Hornets (22-43) received 24 points from Eric Gordon and 17 points and 11 rebounds from rookie Anthony Davis. Greivis Vasquez had 15 points and 14 assists and Robin Lopez, Brook's twin brother, also scored 15.
The Nets grabbed the lead early on and never relinquished it, although the game was tied in the third quarter.
"We had a chance to win," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "We tied the game, but then we had a number of breakdowns. Brooklyn had 19 offensive rebounds and anytime you play a team like that, you can't give them that many extra possessions, especially with Deron Williams at the point guard. But our guys competed and I'm proud of that."
Blatche had a big second quarter for the Nets, scoring 10 points. Both Blatche and Lopez, the two Nets centers, had 12 points in the first half. Davis had 12 and Robin Lopez had nine to pace the Hornets.
The Nets led, 57-48, at the half.
New Orleans sliced the lead to 62-57 on a long 3-pointer from Gordon, then Vasquez hit a driving shot in the lane that brought the Hornets to within three at 64-61.
Mason, Jr. scored five straight points in the closing minute of the third quarter to tie the game at 78-78, but Blatche had a rebound basket at the buzzer to give the Nets an 80-78 lead heading into the final period.
Brooks drained a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter for the Nets, pushing the lead to 83-78. Williams had a power drive and free throw that gave the Nets a 90-81 lead with 9:15 left in the game.
"I like where we're at," Carlesimo said. "I keep saying that we're day-to-day. Everyone in the league is the same way. You have to come and perform every night."
NOTES: Carlesimo said before the game that he's not concerned with the lack of offensive production the team has been getting from forward Gerald Wallace, who was averaging just 6.8 points per game over the last five. "Gerald brings so many things to the table that I'm not overly concerned with his points. He's so important to us in other things, especially with the intensity in which he competes. He lives up to his nickname (Crash) all the time. Gerald will always be in there for us." Wallace is averaging a career-low 8.4 points per game this season. Wallace had only four points and one rebound in the Nets' loss to Philadelphia Monday night, a game where Wallace did not play in the fourth quarter. ... The Nets were without guard Joe Johnson, who sat out the game with his sore left heel. The Nets were in the midst of four games in five days and the medical staff thought it would be best for Johnson to sit it out. ... The Hornets were without leading scorer Ryan Anderson, who was battling the flu. Anderson, averaging 16.7 points per game, was a former Nets' first-round draft pick four years ago. ... Before the game, Williams said that his team, holding a 22-42 record, just has to keep playing. "We can't make excuses about youth anymore," Williams said. "We have to go out and play."... One of the highlights has been the development of Davis, who is averaging 13 points and eight rebounds in his rookie season. "I think we've been bringing him along at a slower pace, because he didn't have the confidence early on," Williams said of last year's No. 1 overall selection. "I think that's allowed him to come along at his pace."