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Kyrie Irving drops 39 points as Nets fight off Pelicans, 135-125

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New Orleans Pelicans v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Call him “Joe Reliable”.

The Nets led by 20 with 8:47 left in the third quarter, but as we’ve seen in this early portion of this season, no lead is safe with the Nets. You know, defense. Led by Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans came storming back and dropped 48 points in the third quarter, hitting 17-of-25 of their shots and bringing their 20-point deficit down to two with 4:43 left in the game.

Insert: Joe Harris.

Now, the Nets led by five with less than a minute left. Kyrie Irving had the ball in his hands in the big moment, but New Orleans came with an aggressive double, forcing the ball out of his hands and into Harris’. Harris, who finished with 19 points on the night, nailed the biggest one to put Brooklyn up eight with 53 seconds left.

The Nets improved to 3-4 on the season and will head out on a five-game West Coast trip.

While Harris was the hero, Irving was the superstar... again. The hometown hero put home 39 points to go along with nine assists in 34 minutes of action. Irving also set another history mark, a streak of seven straight 20-point games which matches the longest streak of 20-point games for a player at any point in the Brooklyn era (since 2012-13).

And, he had some breathtaking highlights, as per usual.

After the game in speaking with Michael Grady and addressing the Nets fans, Kyrie said, “Just be patient with us and we’ll get there.” (He also said, without exaggeration, “This is my playground out here.”)

Patience is necessary, because this one didn’t need to be as difficult as it was. You heard about the 20-point lead dwindling into a two-point lead, much like most of their games this season. It’s about (how) it’s happening.

The Nets couldn’t hold on to the ball — coughing it up 23 times on the night, which led to 22 points for New Orleans. The defense, oh boy the defense, was dreadful, particularly in the third quarter when they gave up those 48 points in 12 minutes.

Once Kyrie exited the game, the second unit struggled (again). The bench was out-scored 37-24, while Spencer Dinwiddie turned the ball over three times in 21 minutes. Dinwiddie hasn’t looked like himself, perhaps a byproduct of playing with a struggling surrounding core?

Regardless, they need him to get it together. The poor shooting is one thing, but the turnovers are very uncharacteristic for him — a player that was one of the best in turnover-to-assist ratio last season.

Otherwise, the Nets played well (on the offensive end) and shot 53 percent from the field, 39 percent from three. Prior to Harris’ three, LeVert nailed a clutch three-pointer to put Brooklyn up seven with 3:06 remaining, capping off a 7-2 run and 23-point night for him.

Jarrett Allen looked comfortable, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Taurean Prince finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Garrett Temple was the only player off the bench to finish in double figured (13 points).

Ingram finished with 40 points, his career high, shooting 17-of-24, with only three shots coming from beyond the arc. His mid-range prowess was stunning. Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball, who left early with a leg injury, finished with 15 each.

DeANDRE JORDAN DOWN

Not all was fine and dandy at the end of the night for the Nets. DeAndre Jordan sprained his right ankle early in the fourth quarter and did not return. His status for the five-game road-trip, which begins Friday in Portland, is unknown at this point, but this is the last thing the Nets need right now.

Jordan limped out of the Nets locker room wearing a brace, while the team was noncommittal about the severity. The Nets are likely to have Jordan undergo more imaging on Tuesday.

“We’ll see,” coach Kenny Atkinson told The Post. “I didn’t see how bad it was. Not great.”

If the injury keeps him out during the two-week long road trip, don’t be surprised if the Nets to bring in a big to replace the suspended Wilson Chandler ... rather than a stretch 4.

Allen said he and his teammates are looking forward to the trip. “It’s kind of fun, best friends, we’re together every day. We’re going to be out having fun and we’re also going to have the serious side of basketball,” said Allen.

For now, we wait and see, but overall, a good night in Brooklyn was had by all.

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POST-GAME SOUND BITES

Click here for post-game audio from Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince and Joe Harris.

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JOE HARRIS, GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME

With his 4-of-9 performance from beyond the arc, Harris is now shooting 54.5 percent from 3-point range, fifth in the league. Perhaps more significantly, the 28-year-old Harris is now seventh ALL-TIME in 3-point shooting, having passed Steve Nash, Kyle Korver, Steve Novak and Tim Legler since the beginning of the season ... seven games.

Among other sharpshooters Harris had already surpassed: Klay Thompson and J.J. Redick,

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ATTENDANCE RISING

After five home dates, Nets average home attendance is just short of 17,500, 19th in NBA and 98.9% of capacity. Last year at this time, the average home attendance was a little more than 15,000 or 85 percent of capacity. So there’s been a more than 2,000 increase.

On Friday, Nets CEO David Levy told WFAN’s Mike Francesa, “We’re like 72 percent ahead of where we were last year at this point. That’s a huge increase.”

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CLAXTON DRESSES, BUT DOESN’T PLAY

For the first time this season, Nicolas Claxton dressed for the game, but didn’t play. Claxton practiced with the Long Island Nets over the past two days. Will he travel with the big team on the West Coast trip now that DeAndre Jordan could be down? Or will he play for Long Island who opens its season next weekend?

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HAPPY 7th BIRTHDAY, BARCLAYS CENTER

For a different perspective, head on over to The Bird Writes, our sister site on SB Nation.

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Next up: Nets at Trail Blazers, Friday at 10 PM ET.