CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte is where struggling NBA teams go to get back on track, and that was the case again Wednesday night.
The Brooklyn Nets snapped out of a recent funk with a dominant second-half performance and beat the Charlotte Bobcats 99-78.
After trailing by 10 at halftime, the Nets outscored the Bobcats 28-9 in the third quarter and wound up holding the Bobcats to 25 second-half points. They led by as many as 23 in the fourth quarter.
This from a Brooklyn team that had lost four of its previous five, including its previous two, and is going through the process of getting guard Joe Johnson back to full health.
The Nets are 35-26, with the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.
"We always need wins," Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "Was it a big win? Yes, it was a very big win. Moreso because we got down, and at halftime our attitude was good and they realized they needed to step it up defensively. Obviously there were great offensive numbers in the second half, too, but what won the game was those guys defending and giving up, what, nine in the third quarter."
Johnson, in his third game back after being out with a sore left heel, led the Nets with 22 points, including five 3-pointers. Deron Williams had 20 points and eight assists; Brook Lopez scored 16; Reggie Evans pulled down 16 rebounds; and Gerald Wallace had eight points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
The Nets trailed 18-6 early, 29-26 after one quarter and 53-43 at halftime. They opened the third quarter with a 16-3 run to take the lead and went on to lead 71-62 after three. Charlotte never got closer than eight in the fourth quarter.
"We just came out with more energy and we were together on the defensive end," Lopez said. "They were getting what they wanted in the first half, and we knew we had to change that in the second half. They're an NBA team; they have a ton of talent. We just gave them an opportunity to come out with energy and let them believe they had a chance in the first half, and that's something we just can't do. So we had to come out in the second half and be decisive about it."
Charlotte made just 10 of 40 shots from the field in the second half, and the Nets outrebounded the Bobcats 31-11 after intermission.
"We defended so much better in the second half it wasn't even funny," Carlesimo said. "It was all passion. It's not like we weren't trying in the first half, but we didn't play with near the passion we did in the second half."
Johnson scored 16 of his 22 in the second half and wound up playing 31 minutes. Both were great signs to Carlesimo.
"It was by far the best of the three games he's played," Carlesimo said. "I don't think he's 100 percent by any stretch, but I thought he was significantly better than he was in the other two."
Johnson downplayed his performance.
"I feel good," he said. "My job isn't that hard. I think me being out there drawing so much attention gets guys a lot of wide-open shots, and the fact that I'm still able to create and make plays, it works to our advantage. So I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent, but I'm good to go."
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led the Bobcats with 17 points and Ben Gordon scored 16, but leading scorer Kemba Walker finished with just 10 on 4-of-12 shooting.
The Bobcats have lost eight straight and are just 7-23 at home.
"We had some great looks in the second half, but we didn't get into the paint enough so we have to create with our penetration game," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said.
NOTES: The Nets won the only previous game this year, 97-81 in Brooklyn on Dec. 28. The Nets have now won six straight in the series. ... The teams will meet one more time this season, at Brooklyn on April 6. ... The Nets are in a stretch where they play 12 of 15 games on the road. Looming is an 8-game road trip later this month. ... The Bobcats were returning home from a dismal four-game Western trip, when they lost the four games by an average of 26.5. They were coming off a 122-105 loss at Portland on Monday. ... After starting the season 7-6, the Bobcats are 6-42 over their last 48 games and have lost 16 of their previous 18. ... Tyrus Thomas is the second-highest-paid Bobcat behind Gordon, but he has been inactive for the last 11 games and is so out of favor that he didn't even accompany the team on its Western trip. Thomas is making $8 million this season and has $18 million more guaranteed in the next two years. ... The Bobcats will remain home to face Oklahoma City on Friday. ... The Nets will return home to face Washington on Friday.