No Kevin Durant, no problem.
It was a Nets offensive showcase Friday as Brooklyn blew out Oklahoma City, 147-125. with KD resting on the bench in the Sooner State. With the win, the Nets extended their winning streak to four games, tying their season-high win streak, and have won eight of their last 10. As Brooklyn picked up their first win against OKC since 2017, the team improved to 13-8 while the Thunder fell to 8-10.
Brooklyn had their foot on the gas pedal throughout the game, breaking ity open in the opening minutes of the second. The Nets scored 76 points in the first half, marking the second-most points in the first half since the team relocated to Brooklyn. In fact, the Nets 147 points matched a franchise record for most points scored in a regulation game. (The Nets tallied 147 points on April 17, 1982 at Detroit.)
“Shots fell for us. But we also didn’t turn the ball over and created a lot of opportunities. The guys did their job. Played well and kept separation,” said Steve Nash post-game.
“We’re getting there. ... We’re slowly inching forward on both ends of the floor,” Nash added. “We struggled defensively at times, but we’re getting more solid with our game plan defensively. Offensively, you’re starting to see a little more flow. You’re seeing James [Harden] able to manage the game like that and manipulate the defense.”
And after the bench scored only two points in the first half against the Hawks Wednesday, non-starters put up 22 of the 76 first-half points Friday Friday. At the same time, Kyrie Irving and James Harden combined for 28.
The Nets followed the same script in the second half. The offense continued to flow smoothly, piling up 39 third-quarter points. Only once in franchise history had a Nets team scored more points through three quarters, back on March 6 of last year against the San Antonio Spurs (120), Kenny Atkinson’s last game as head coach. Finally, with 4:44 left in the fourth, Steve Nash cleared the bench.
Harden finished with a triple-double of 25 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds in 32 minutes, his third in eight games. With the win, the Nets are now 6-2 with “The Beard” on their team.
“Very, very great,” Harden said following the win. “The ball was moving, we were active on both ends of the floor, coaches drew up a beautiful game plan and we executed on both ends of the ball. We like to see carry-over. In the last few games, we’ve seen carry-over, especially on the defensive end and it is showing so we just got to keep it up.”
Irving put together a strong performance on both ends of the floor, scoring 25 points to go along with seven assists and five rebounds in 34 minutes of play.
“They were both incredible,” Nash said of his superstar backcourt. “James manages the game so well. Spreads the floor. Scores, assists, rebounds. Gets his hands on balls defensively. Kyrie was just... incredible shot-making. He was able to make some plays with the basketball. Such a threat out there and so difficult for defenses to contain.”
Joe Harris had a bounce-back performance Friday, scoring 20 points in 33 minutes of play, finishing his night shooting 5-of-9 from deep and going 7-of-13 overall. While Harris quickly snapped out of his short shooting funk, Landry Shamet had a breakout game of 11 points, hitting 3-of-7 shooting from deep in 18 minutes off the bench. Shamet had not played in four of the Nets' last five games heading into Friday’s win.
Adding to the offensive show, four other Nets finished in double-figures: DeAndre Jordan (10 points), Bruce Brown (19 points), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (13 points), and Reggie Perry (10 points). Perry also garnered 11 boards. In fact, the nine players in double figures were the most in Nets history, typing a franchise record that was nearly 40 years old.
“It’s very satisfying anytime you get a win but anytime the whole team plays well, we can do some great things with this group,” Irving said following the win. “That is what stands out of the rest. I’m definitely proud of our guys for competing on both ends of the floor and not letting the foot off the gas pedal.”
“It’s huge for us, man. It was fun to be out there,” said a gleeful Brown in the postgame presser. “We was laughing, playing hard, joking around. We were loose, we had fun. And everyone got in, so that was fun.”
As a team, the Nets finished the win shooting 57 percent from the field and 42.2 percent from behind the arc while recording 12 turnovers.
For the Thunder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander finished with 24 points in 31 minutes followed by Theo Maledon, who impressed with 24 points on 8-of-9 shooting overall and 6-of-6 from deep. The Thunder shot 46.5 percent overall and 42.1 percent from deep as a team in the loss.
Now, let’s check out some film.
The Film Room
James Harden was masterful as an all-around performer in the city that birthed his NBA journey. He was everywhere. Hitting step backs. Slinging crosscourt passes. Engulfing rebounds. And maybe most importantly, playing terrific help defense by rotating to the “nail” and halting drives at the rim in timely fashion.
On offense, you give the guy a screen and there’s a 50.9 percent chance, per Synergy, that points WILL be scored in the opponent's basket. Give him two screens? Hell, three? That just increases the likelihood of very good things for the Nets. Below, the Nets set up in transition to give Harden a myriad of options; a “pistol” setup (learn more about that play here) with Landry Shamet streaking up the wings and Joe Harris positioned at the top of the key for the flare screen. Harris’ screen also doubles as one of two “drag screens” (Reggie Perry being the other screener) in a set known as “double drag,” in which two players set screens in transition in a perpendicular direction to the ball-handler.
Harden opts to utilize the “double drag” screens. Joe Harris pops to the wings, bringing Hamidou Diallo with him; Harden dribbles toward the right wing to coerce a trap from the Thunder; Perry thunders down the lane on the roll, forcing “Poku” to rotate over to protect the basket, which leaves Landry Shamet open in the corner.
Harden knows what to do: A bullet of a skip-pass gives Shamet the second of his 3 slump-breaking threes.
Landry Shamet is FEELING IT @landryshamet | #BrooklynTogether pic.twitter.com/RToNdMYXQU— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 30, 2021
Oh, but don’t you worry. Kyrie Irving came to play too.
The understated beauty of Kyrie Irving is that he doesn’t necessarily require a screen to attack with the ball in his hands. There’s no need to hunt for a mismatch. He doesn’t even necessarily require specific sets to score 20+ points. Rather willingly, he’ll take on one of the opponent’s better defenders in isolation with chagrin.
"HE’S A MACHINE"@KyrieIrving | #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/Xp7VR5KpJ6— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 30, 2021
Sometimes, you’ve gotta just appreciate the greatness, you know?
Kyrie on James, James on Kyrie
One of the big questions at the time of the James Harden trade was whether the two All-NBA guards would get along with one ball. And since this was also the time of Irving’s mysterious absence, the question got asked a lot. After another big win, this time without Kevin Durant, the two were asked about each other post-game.
IRVING ON PLAYING WITH HARDEN:
“Just taking it day by day. I’m always going to say that I won’t take anything for granted. It doesn’t happen often in history where you have this group together at this point. Some of the guys were starters last year on their respective teams, other guys are MVP candidates and to have all of that collective talent and not get the most out of it, we’d be doing ourselves a disservice so we just want to continue to just push each other and hold each other accountable.”
HARDEN ON PLAYING WITH IRVING:
“I never say how long the process was gonna take. But Ky is special. He got it going in the third quarter. And we just wanted him to keep going until he missed, and even when he missed keep going again. But we just got to find that balance of, you know, of when to be aggressive and when to make plays. And I think even with our aggressiveness, we’re still playmakers. So you know, I think over the course of the game, we did a really good job of getting our guys involved in going aggressiveness, corner ball as well. So nothing really changes even when KD’s in the lineup as well.”
Then, there’s this...
Double-double for Reggie Perry
Reggie Perry had a tough night in Atlanta Wednesday. The native of Thomasville, Georgia, got into foul trouble early and didn’t have much impact in his first NBA game on the red clay of his home state.
But on Friday night, the 57th pick recorded his first double-double with 10 points and 11 boards in 19 minutes. The 20-year-old shot 4-of-7 overall, 1-of-3 from deep, and added an assist.
We did some checking to see how many double-doubles have been recorded by rookie bigs from November’s Draft ... putting aside scoring averages.
James Wiseman, the overall No. 2 pick who plays for the Warriors, has had one as has Saddiq Bey, who the Nets took at No. 19, then traded to the Pistons, and Isaiah Stewart of the Blazers, taken at No. 16. Precious Achiuwa of the Heat, the No. 20 pick, has had two.
Again, not bad for a 57th pick.
Breaking down Nets assistant Tiago Splitter’s IG video
Tiago Splitter went on Instagram live Thursday, speaking in Portuguese to his viewers. Thanks to a friendly translator, we got a sense of what Splitter said about his position with the Nets organization, what he does as assistant coach after an 18-year career in both Spain and the NBA.
Nets assistant Tiago Splitter had THIS to say pic.twitter.com/vIYvyrXKxb— Nets As Depicted By Spongebob (@NetsDepiction) January 29, 2021
Splitter, who is an assistant coach for player development, focusing particularly on bigs, spoke about his various roles such as watching and studying videos with players: what’s right and wrong; rebounding precepts; counter-attacks; and analyzing players ... and numbers.
Nash praises OKC’s Canadian youngsters
Steve Nash, who grew up in Victoria B.C., always shows a lot of Candian pride. As the general manager of Team Canada from 2012-2019, Nash saw many talented Canadian hoopers rise up the ranks––a basketball population that seems to grow exponentially every season. There are your mainstays... the Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, and Jamal Murray’s of the world. There are those more seldomly discussed Northern ballers, such as Cory Joseph, Trey Lyles, and Khem Birch. And now there’s that rising crop of budding young stars from up North: Nash’s godson, R.J. Barrett, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and Brandon Clarke.
The Thunder have two players who sit firmly in that starry-eyed third category, Lu Dort of Montreal and Shai-Gilgeous Alexander of Montreal. Pre-game, Nash spoke glowingly of OKC’s Canadian youngin’s.
“Dort’s a terrific defender. Shooting the ball very well this year from three,” said Nash. “Shai is turning into an All-Star guard in front of our eyes. I think it must be in the water in Canada if you ask me. That’s a pretty high-powered backcourt.”
Or as Sponge Bob would say...
Per Will Hanley.
The Nets will finish their three-game road trip when the team travels to Washington D.C. to take on the Washington Wizards on Sunday, Jan. 31. The game is set to tip-off at 7:00 PM ET.
Norvel Pelle is expected to join the Nets Sunday.
For a different perspective, check out Welcome To Loud City, our sister site on SB Nation covering the Thunder.
- Box Score: Brooklyn Nets 147, Oklahoma City 125 - NBA.com
- Game Highlights: Brooklyn Nets 147, Oklahoma City 125 (Video) - NBA.com
- Highlights: James Harden vs. Thunder (Video) - NBA.com
- Nets Post Game Plus: BKN@OKC (Video) - Bob Lorenz & Michael Grady - YES Network
- Ian Eagle and Sarah Kustok on Nets’ win (Video) - YES Network
- Joe Harris on strong offense in win (Video) - YES Network
- Steve Nash on win over Thunder (Video) - YES Network
- Brooklyn Nets big man Norvel Pelle (Video) - YES Network
- Wear Brooklyn At? (Video) - Ian Eagle - YES Network
- Nets don’t miss rested Durant in 147-125 win over Thunder - Cliff Brunt - AP
- James Harden’s triple-double leads Nets in romp over Thunder - Larry Fleisher - Reuters
- James Harden, Kyrie Irving propel Nets to rout of Thunder - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets likely adding another free agent to fill roster void - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- New Net Norvel Pelle expected to join team in Washington - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets can’t be stopped in rout of Thunder - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Without Kevin Durant, the Nets are still really good - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- The Nets should sign J.R. Smith, but they have other options, too - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Brooklyn Nets score 147 to tie franchise record for points in regulation game - Royce Young - ESPN
- Brooklyn Nets hold out Kevin Durant for road game vs. Oklahoma City Thunder - ESPN
- Nets win in record-breaking fashion over Oklahoma City - SNY
- What is the Nets’ best closing lineup? How should Steve Nash be graded so far? Mailbag - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic New York
- Nets vs. Thunder: 3 things we learned from Brooklyn’s comfortable win - Nick Friar - USA Today
- GAME GRADES: Nets Shoot Lights Out Against Thunder, Win Fourth Straight - Elizabeth Swinton - The Brooklyn Game
- NETS 147, THUNDER 125: JAMES HARDEN POSTS TRIPLE-DOUBLE IN BROOKLYN WIN - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- NETS VS. THUNDER: JAMES HARDEN, KYRIE IRVING, AND STEVE NASH TOP QUOTES - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- GALLERY: NETS VS. THUNDER - Brooklyn Nets
- Thunder vs. Suns: Five takeaways from OKC’s win at Phoenix - Joe Mussatto - The Oklahoman