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Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving combine for 59 as Nets bounce back, beat Heat, 128-124

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Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

A win is a win. With Miami decimated by injury and illness, the Nets were able to squeeze one out at Barclays Center in the second half of a back-to-back. It was the first win for the “Big Three” and they showed what they can do in the clutch. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden scored all of the Nets 32 points in the fourth quarter.

Brooklyn bounced back and snapped their two-game losing skid Saturday, defeating the shorthanded Heat, 128-124. With the win, Brooklyn improves to 10-8 on the season while Miami falls to 6-9. In addition, the Nets extend their home winning streak to four games and winning six of their last seven at Barclays Center.

Brooklyn had their foot on the gas offensively throughout the game, especially from 3-point range. The defense let Miami score 124 points — after scoring 81 points Friday in Tampa — Those lapses let the Heat get back in the fourth after the Nets built up a 14-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes and the fourth quarter was shaky. Miami wound up with 42 points.

“I think it was one of those games where we could have found a bunch of ways to lose it,” Nash said following the win. “We were hanging on to a lead, the second unit struggled a little bit, we lost that margin, and that’s a tough position when you put your starters back in late in the game when the momentum swung the other way. I was happy with the character and resolve we showed. Most importantly, showed the resolve to get the win.”

Bam Adebayo, with a career-high 41, and the Heat put it together late, making it a close game but Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving came up big when the Nets needed it most to secure the win.

Durant paved the way for Brooklyn, finishing with 31 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes of play. There was also some personal history for KD. The Nets superstar moved to 27th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, passing Robert Parish (23,334). Ironically, next up on that list for Durant is Charles Barkley (23,757). Along with personal history, Durant extended his Nets franchise record of 25+ points in consecutive games to 12. He leads the league in that category this season. Durant has also scored 30+ in five straight home games.

Joe Harris shot the lights out in Saturday’s win, tying a career-high with seven threes and finishing with 23 points, two rebounds, and two assists in 37 minutes as a starter. Harris scored a team-high 20 points in the first half - which marked the fourth 20-point half in his career. In the battle of 3-point monsters, Harris finished 7-of-12 while Duncan Robinson was a mere 3-of-11.

Kyrie Irving, who excelled in the fourth, finished with 28 points, six rebounds, and seven assists in 36 minutes of play. Irving complemented his offensive display with energy defensively, being very active on that end of the floor throughout the game.

Following the win, Durant provided high praise for Irving, especially him stepping up in the final 12 minutes of play.

“You’ve seen how special, talented, and hardworking Kyrie is. He works on all of those shots every day and comes in with that mentality, especially late in games, he knocks those down for us,” Durant said.

“He’s an all-world player and a great teammate but when the ball is in his hands late in the game, our team is just so unpredictable. He can make a pass, score in the mid-range, score from the three-point area, get to the basket, and weapons around him so it makes it tough to guard.

“We are going to need that from him going forward and he was phenomenal in the fourth.”

As a team, the Nets finished the win shooting 53.7 percent overall and 51.4 percent from deep. Brooklyn’s ball movement was on full display as the team dished out 34 assists but recorded 18 turnovers as well. It was also the fourth straight game of 120 points for the Nets, another franchise record.

As for Miami, Adebayo put on a clinic, scoring that career-high 41 points while adding five rebounds and nine assists in 38 minutes of play. As a team, the Heat shot 47.2 percent overall and a rough 28.3 percent from deep.

Now, let's dive into some fine film work courtesy of Matt Brooks.

The Film Room

Say it with me: Screen. Angles. Are. IMPORTANT!

Joe Harris’ smokin’ hot 6 three-pointers were a byproduct of his increased aggressiveness, yes. But the Nets did a better job providing him with higher quality looks through off-ball screens. His teammates enhanced his always continuous off-ball movement by warping the HEAT defense into allowing more favorable shots.

An example...

Joe Harris loves to streak up the sideline, come off a flare screen and cut toward the middle of the floor for three-pointers off the catch. Against the Cavaliers, many of these looks were flipped, with Harris sprinting off screens toward the sidelines for wing threes. The results were a bit more unbalanced and, consequently, unpropitious for the Nets.

Harris is just undeniably squared up with the basket here after a tremendous drag screen by Jeff Green. Green’s pick is angled so that he clips Kendrick Nunn while providing a runway for Joey Buckets.

A switch-up from all the switching?

Since its first two games, Brooklyn went from “Nets World” to “Nets Worl”... because there’s been zero D. **Drowns in thunderous boos from the crowd**

All seriousness, with miscommunications aplenty, help rotations later than a Jay Electronica release date, and just so, so many unnecessary switches, some of Nets Nations has been calling for a switch-up from Steve Nash’s switching defense. “MORE ZONE!” they yell from the rooftops.

Steve Nash, cool and collected as always, pushed back on the idea of a dramatic change-up thus far in the season.

“I still firmly believe we just go out and refine things we’ve been doing. We haven’t been doing them well enough, we haven’t been communicating enough, we haven’t made second efforts. At times it feels a little bit like we want a solution rather than a fight.

“We just gotta make sure our mentality is strong, we stick together, we keep pushing to refine those details. Then we can improve defensively. I don’t think there’s a magic answer; no matter what scheme you go to, it has to be five men in concert defending actions with intelligence and passion. I think it’s more getting on the same page and the passion that we need to double down before we start to change the rotations or the scheme.”

Former Nets (!) assistant coach and Grizzlies video coordinator Steve Jones Jr. signed off in agreement with Nash on Twitter.

Take it from the expert ... and Snapper’s son.

A jersey exchange... swatted into the bleachers

After the two of them dropped a combined 69 points, Kyrie Irving and Bam Adebayo met up underneath one of the two Barclays baskets for an impromptu jersey swap. Right in the midst of the exchange, the (what Twitter is calling) “hug police” broke up the interaction with a power-point and a brisk walk from midcourt.

Kyrie Irving commented on the moment postgame.

“I just want to follow NBA protocols.”

Kyrie then stifled a laugh and covered his face. It was a funny moment.

What’s next

The Nets will be back in action on Monday, Jan. 25 when the team hosts the Miami Heat again. The game will be broadcasted on YES Network and is set to tip-off at 7:30 PM ET.

For a different perspective, check out Hot Hot Hoops, our Heat sister site on SB Nation.