THE BIG THREE DEBUT! KEVIN DURANT, KYRIE IRVING AND JAMES HARDEN SCORE A COMBINED 96 POINTS!! HARDEN HAS A TRIPLE DOUBLE!!!
And they lost.
It was a heartbreaker in Cleveland. Brooklyn’s growing pains were evident (and have to be expected) as the Nets fell to the Cavaliers, 147-135, in double overtime. With the loss, Brooklyn drops to 9-7 on the season while Cleveland improves to 7-7.
Despite the Nets big debut, the game was the Colin Sexton Show. The last pick from the Celtics trade (who was traded to the Cavs for Irving) finished with 42 points including the first seven points of the second overtime, dagger after dagger.
The Nets started the game shooting a perfect 10-for-10 then missed their next 11 shots and lost momentum up until the fourth quarter when the Big Three finally seemed to get in sync.
With eight seconds remaining in regulation, Harden got a steal, passed the ball to Irving, and the Nets point guard was called for an offensive foul on Sexton. Steve Nash successfully challenged the call but the Nets did not have enough time to get a shot up, sending the game to overtime. In the final seconds of overtime, Durant could not connect on a difficult fadeaway at the horn, sending the game to double OT ... and it got ugly fast.
Sexton took over and was lights out from three, leading Cleveland to the win. The Cavs outscored the Nets 20-8 to close out the game.
KD paved the way for the Nets late in the game as the Nets chipped away at the Cavs’ 13-point lead. From a chase-down block to generally electric offensive play, Durant thrived again, finishing the loss with 38 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists in 50 minutes. Durant extended the Nets franchise record of 25+ points to 11 games. The Nets superstar entered Wednesday’s game second in the league in points per game (30.6) and his 11 games of 25+ points lead the NBA.
When asked how Durant feels following logging 50 minutes, he said he could play a lot more.
“I feel like I can play another 20 minutes,” Durant said.
“Tonight was one of those nights. We got stagnant in that second and third quarter with that zone and trying to break it. In the full court, we got loose a little bit and it was one of those up and down games.”
In his return following missing the past seven games, Irving put on a quiet showcase against his former team. Irving finished the loss with 37 points, three assists, and two rebounds in 48 minutes of play.
“Honestly too long,” Irving said about Wednesday’s game. “Two OT’s for the first game back. You got to love NBA basketball.
“We definitely tried to come out and compete. I was just my best out there to pace myself. I know that it will take me a minute to just get up and down a few more times. I’m excited about the future. Cleveland threw a lot of things at us. To start the game, they threw zone, they forced us into some positions that were just uncomfortable. They scored 20 points in the second OT. I don’t know many teams that can put up 20 points in five minutes but they did and Collin [Sexton] got hot so I give the young fella credit. I give that whole Cleveland team credit for tonight. They came to play.”
As for Harden, the newest Net played very passively in the first half, perhaps getting used to having two equally skilled offensive players. He put up only two shots in the first 24 minutes of play. Harden played a little more aggressively in the second half, then heated up when the team needed it. He finished with a triple-double 21 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds in 51 minutes.
Outside of the Nets Big Three, Jeff Green continued his impressive play, filling as the Nets’ x-factor. Green scored a season-high 16 points to go along with seven rebounds and eight assists in 45 minutes of play.
The Nets finished the loss shooting 45.3 percent overall and 36.6 percent from deep. Brooklyn struggled with turnovers, tallying 16 turnovers as well. But of the 135 points, only 10 came from the bench, six from Joe Harris and four from rookie Reggie Perry.
And the minutes toll was high. Harden played 50:30 minutes, Durant 50:09 and Irving 48:22.
“I wasn’t expecting to go to double-overtime,” said James Harden post-game. “In the fourth quarter, we were just making a push to win the game. I think we did a good job of that.”
Harden continued, sharing his regiment to cool down from such a rigorous performance.
“Just ice, stretch, do the proper things. We have an unbelievable training staff. Just get with them and make sure I’m prepared and ready to go Friday. This is the schedule, this is what we’re in. No excuses. We just gotta prepare and be ready to go when it’s game time.”
“I think the second-overtime, there was fatigue,” Steve Nash said post-game about the minute totals. “But when a guy gets hot like that, there’s not much you can do.”
The game was the Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince revenge game. They combined for 29 points. Allen finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes while Prince added 17 points in 32 minutes. The Cavs finished the win shooting 51.4 percent overall and 50.0 percent from deep.
“We had breakdowns all over the place,” explained Nash post-game. “So, we got a lot of work to do. We know that. We know that we have a very offensive team right now. So we have to find ways to defend, to stay connected, to be on the same page, and that’s going to take some time. It’s definitely early doors as far as this team, this new group learning to defend together, and how we can be effective defensively. That’s gotta be the part of our game we focus on the most going forward.”
Post-game, Sexton admitted playing against the guy he was traded for —whose number he wears— was a motivation.
“I am in Cleveland, I do wear No. 2, and I do wear Kyrie’s. That’s gonna be linked together. I just got to take it. I can’t control what people say, but I can control what I do,” Sexton admitted. “It was good to go against him tonight. I definitely accepted the challenge, and I knew it wasn’t gonna be easy. Just the simple fact that it’s Kyrie, he’s coming at you each and every night ready to go and tonight was a good one.”
The Film Room
So… things were a little clunky to start this one off, as you’d expect with a brand new superteam featuring three top-end scorers who have never played together.
During the first half, the Nets coughed up the rock 10 total times. Timing was off. There was a general lack of familiarity. The Cavaliers’ zone, which the Nets haven’t seen much of this year, didn’t help matters.
Again, the starry machinery was just a little … disjointed.
Things weren’t exactly better on the defensive end. Allowing 147 points to the worst offense in the league doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Sure, it’s night one. Mistakes will be had. But defense has been an issue for the Nets since the turn of the new year.
Andre Drummond sets a middle pin down (a screen that faces the baseline) for Cedi Osman, and Kevin Durant jumps around the screen to take away the three-point shot. Now in recovery mode, it’s on DeAndre Jordan to contain both of Osmon and Drummond for just a brief second so that Durant can get back in the play.
That doesn’t happen. Rather than back peddling to the basket to buy Durant time, Jordan lazily tosses out a paw at the ball on the bounce pass.
Andre Drummond says “thank you very much!” after Jordan’s half-hearted steal attempt and rams home a slam.
Landry Shamet receives DNP; Bruce Brown plays just 7 minutes
While the stars received 149 of Brooklyn’s minutes, the Nets’ depth barely received any burn whatsoever even as the game headed deep into the pair of overtimes. Specifically, Bruce Brown, who had been a key piece to numerous victories this season, received just 7 total minutes of play. Landry Shamet, on the other hand, a sharpshooter who has hit 39.3% of his threes since the January 5th game against the Utah Jazz, didn’t see the floor for the entirety of the double-overtime nailbiter.
“We found ourselves in a hole. The second unit got beat up pretty badly there in the second quarter,” said Nash. “We relied on our star players. When you get yourself into a dogfight and try and climb out a hole, it’s hard to really go to the bench. We were in the game, we had a chance to come back, we got ourselves back, and we didn’t do it. So right now, it looks like we made the wrong decisions. But if they hadn’t made that three in the first overtime, it looks like it was worthwhile. Sometimes you roll the dice. Second unit didn’t perform tonight the way we think could, so we didn’t go back to them as long and as hard and we kept the rotation shorter and we ended up losing. You could say that was the wrong decision. But you could also say that we gave ourselves the chance and had a three-point lead with a few seconds left in overtime.”
Kevin Durant echoed the statements from his coach, arguing that most teams play their stars lots of minutes in shorter rotations.
“Most teams in the league only go nine deep,” Durant said. “It’s very rare for teams to go with a 10-man rotation. We got guys that can score on the starting unit. We have guys that can come off the bench and knock down shots as well so we just got to catch our rhythm
Nets Big Three excited for the journey ahead
Despite the Nets Big Three debut of a combined 96 points being spoiled by Collin Sexton and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the trio is very excited for the road ahead.
Kevin Durant said it felt right, perfect, and like they all belong together following Wednesday’s loss.
“It felt right. It felt perfect and it felt like we belong together,” Durant said about the Nets Big Three. “It felt like this journey together is going to be fun. It was a tough first start, especially losing an up and down game for us but I like what we are.”
As for James Harden, he is thrilled to be a member of the Nets and join Durant and Kyrie Irving. Harden’s key to success for the Nets Big Three to succeed is communication.
“Being open with each other. Communication and that’s it,” Harden said. “We all have a very great skillset. It is just communication, where we want each other to be, and when things are going great or bad, that is all that matters. If we are on the same page with that communication, we have a very good chance of winning a majority of our games.”
Irving took the leader's perspective and does not want this team to be focused around the Big Three. Although he is excited as well to play alongside Durant and Harden, it is a group effort in his perspective and fitting the pieces together.
“We’re not so much consumed about what we can do. We are more or less responsible for putting these pieces together and making it work,” Irving said following Wednesday’s loss to the Cavaliers.
Scary Hours await.
Steve Nash gives a warm sendoff to Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince
Taurean Prince and Jarrett Allen made their Cleveland Cavalier debuts on Wednesday––fittingly against the team that traded them both out of their former homes in Brooklyn just one short week ago. Steve Nash provided some kind words on both of his formers players during the pre-game sitdown.
“I only got to coach them for––I can’t remember now––45 days or whatever,” recalled Nash. “2 guys––and Caris––guys that I enjoyed being around every day. Guys that came to work with great attitude and competed, strived to get better, were positive in the locker room. I think Cleveland should be fortunate to have Taurean and Jarrett. You know, Jarrett has a big upside. But Taurean is a great competitor as well and is an excellent NBA player. They should definitely be excited about having them, and we miss them as people and as players. That’s just a part of the business that everyone has to live with.”
And shoot, just based on how the both of them looked against Brooklyn, it’s pretty easy to see why Nash feels that way.
Joe Harris moving on up
With his second 3-pointer made tonight, Joe Harris moved into sole possession of third place in Nets history in bombs made. Jason Kidd is No. 1 with 813; followed by Kerry Kittles – 687; and Harris at 639. Harris pointed Vince Carter.
Harris has also moved into 8th place ALL-TIME in 3-pt shooting percentage. He is now at 43.13 percent for his career. In 7th place? Steph Curry at 43.3 percent. He’s also closing in on Drazen Petrovic for best Nets 3-pt percentage. Drazen shot 43.7 percent as a Net while Joey Buckets is at 43.5 percent as a Net. Petrovic played for the Blazers before joining the Nets; Harris for the Cavaliers.
Long Islanders head for the G League ‘Bubble’
Internet sleuthing shows that five players rumored to be playing for Long Island in the G League “bubble” are indeed on their way to Disney World: Elie Okobo, the former Suns point guard; Tariq Owens, a power forward who played for the Suns G League team; Nate Sestina, a stretch 4 who played at Kentucky, and Jordan Bowden, a 3-and-D guard from Tennessee, both of whom were cut by the Nets in preseason; Shannon Scott, a point guard who played two seasons for Long Island; and Paul Eboua, a power forward who the Nets picked up off waivers after being cut by the Heat.
The Nets will remain in Cleveland as the team will face the Cavaliers again on Friday. This will be the second of three instances in Brooklyn’s first-half schedule in which the Nets play the same opponent in consecutive games.
The game is set to tip-off at 7:30 and will be broadcasted on YES Network.
For a different perspective on tonight, head on over to Fear The Sword, our Cavaliers sister site on SB Nation.
- Box Score: Cleveland Cavaliers 147, Brooklyn Nets 135 - NBA.com
- Game Highlights: Kevin Durant vs. Cleveland | 38 PTS, 12 REB, 8 AST (Video) - NBA.com
- Game Highlights: Kyrie Irving vs. Cleveland | 37 PTS, 3 BLK, 3 AST (Video) - NBA.com
- Nets Post Game Plus: BKN@CLE (Video) - Nancy Newman & Frank Isola - YES Network
- Breaking down Nets’ 147-135 loss vs. Cavs (Video) - Ian Eagle & Sarah Kustok - YES Network
- Steve Nash on adjustments after 2OT loss (Video) - YES Network
- Kevin Durant leads Nets with 38 points vs. Cavs (Video) - YES Network
- Kyrie Irving scores 37 in return to Nets (Video) - YES Network
- James Harden on Brooklyn’s new Big 3 (Video) - YES Network
- Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving returns, scores 37 points in double-overtime loss to Cleveland Cavaliers - Malika Andrews - ESPN
- Sexton, Cavs spoil Irving’s 1st game with Durant, Harden - AP
- Cavs’ OT win spoils debut of Nets’ Big Three - Larry Fleisher - Reuters
- Nets’ Big 3 flops in debut - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Sean Marks, Nets showing Kyrie Irving support: ‘We need to be there’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Sean Marks, Nets showing Kyrie Irving support: ‘We need to be there’ - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Sean Marks wants to keep Nets’ Big 3 around - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Ridiculously fun Nets are worth your time - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- What history tells us about Nets’ 15-game start - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- Kyrie Irving scores 37 in return but Nets fall to Cavaliers in 2 OTs - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Kyrie Irving deserves understanding and support, not scorn - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- With Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant on floor at same time, Nets lose to Cavaliers in two overtimes - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kyrie Irving is putting humanity first - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- How James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant looked in their first Nets game together - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- How Do You Defend Against Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kyrie Irving? Cleveland Cavaliers Coach Describes His Approach - Shlomo Sprung - Forbes Sports Money
- Nets preach patience after losing Big Three’s debut: ‘This is going to be a process’ - Alex Smith - SNY
- Nets Takeaways from Wednesday’s 147-135 double OT loss to the Cavaliers, including Kyrie Irving’s 37-point return - Alex Smith - SNY
- Nets vs. Cavaliers: 3 things we learned from Brooklyn’s surprising loss - Nick Friar - USA Today
- Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden are finally together, so now what? - Brian Windhorst - ESPN+
- With Kyrie Irving back, rookie coach Steve Nash has to figure out how to get his stars aligned - Ben Golliver - Washington Post
- Collin Sexton Isn’t Trae or Luka, but He’s Getting Buckets on Everyone - Jonathan Tjarks - The Ringer
- Nets’ Big Three of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden only starting to reveal itself - Bill Reiter - CBS Sports
- James Harden defers in first game with Kyrie Irving as Cavs top new-look Nets in 2 OTs - Jason Owens - Yahoo! Sports
- Collin Sexton beats Nets’ Kyrie Irving, James Harden & Kevin Durant on his own in double-OT - Dan Bernstein - Sporting News
- CAVALIERS 147, NETS 135: BROOKLYN COMES BACK, COMES UP SHORT IN CLEVELAND - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- NETS VS. CAVALIERS: JAMES HARDEN, KEVIN DURANT, AND STEVE NASH TOP QUOTES - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- GALLERY: NETS VS. CAVS - Brooklyn Nets
- Cavaliers’ past meets present and future as Collin Sexton bests Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets 147-135 in 2OT - Chris Fedor - Cleveland Plain-Dealer