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Nets cap off season’ longest road trip with win over Thunder, 120-96

Brooklyn Nets v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

And that’s a wrap for the longest road trip of the season.

The Nets topped off the final game of their six-game road trip, defeating the Thunder, 120-96 Sunday night. With the win, Brooklyn concludes the road trip with a 5-1 record (the third time in franchise history the team finished a single road trip with five or more wins) and improves to 10-4 on the young season.

“I hope that every time we go on the road, it’s an opportunity for these guys to come together, spend time together and enjoy one another. That’s always a positive on the road but I thought the guys overall were just professional and took care of business on this trip,” said Steve Nash on the road trip.

The one downside was that Joe Harris sprained his left ankle in the game. He will be further evaluated when the team returns to Brooklyn. Steve Nash referred to the injury as “a little ankle sprain.”

In his first game back in Oklahoma City since April of 2018, Kevin Durant delivered. KD finished with his league-high seventh 30+ point game of 33 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field and 2-of-6 from deep in 34 minutes. The Nets superstar snagged eight rebounds and four assists as well. Durant was favoring his right shoulder in the game but stated it feels “solid” and doesn’t affect his game. He added he’ll continue to get treatment on it.

“It’s solid. A little sore here and there but it’s hasn't been getting in the way too much. [I’ll] just keep getting treatment and take it a day at a time,” said Durant on his shoulder.

“It’s a little tweak but the ball still goes in the hole. He’s hanging in there, but I don’t think it’s the type of thing that we expect to get worse. He’s playing through it but it’s not terrible,” said Nash on Durant’s shoulder.

Patty Mills was certainly in “FIBA Patty Mode” and had a career game Sunday night, hitting nine threes (9-of-12 from deep) to finish with 29 points in 31 minutes off the bench. Mills, who helped close the game for Brooklyn, also set the Nets franchise record for three-pointers made off the bench and came within two of the franchise record of 11.

“It’s everything to us,” said Durant on Mills’ superb shooting off the bench. “Patty missed a few shots over the last couple of games so we knew he was due for a big night. His work ethic is top of the line so it was a matter of time until he started knocking those down. Tonight, he had it going and that’s what we need. Our second unit did a solid job.”

James Harden took another step in the right direction in terms of regaining his fulsome form, finishing with a double-double of 16 points, 13 assists and six rebounds in 36 minutes of play. LaMarcus Aldridge helped the Nets bench dominate with 15 points in 22 minutes.

“Both ends, honestly. Both ends; Defensively and offensively,” said Harden on the Nets' biggest improvement on the six-game road trip. “We’re coming together. It feels like it should and obviously, we have a long way to go and we’re still building on it. Just the confidence in knowing each other a little bit more is helping us a lot.”

Brooklyn concluded the final game of the road trip shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three. The Nets dished 31 assists on 41 made shots.

The Nets went with the same starting five for the 11th straight game — Harden, Harris, Durant, Brown and Griffin. Brooklyn had the upper hand in the opening minutes, hitting five of their first seven shots — three assisted by Harden. Durant also got going early with seven points.

The Thunder responded with a quick 8-0 run in the first behind the hot shooting of Lu Dort and the facilitating by Shai Gilgeious-Alexander, but the Nets knotted the score up at 21 with three minutes remaining in the frame. Patty Mills called bank and delivered a buzzer-beater off the glass to put Brooklyn up five (30-25) and conclude the first on a combined 14-4 run. Durant, who was booed during starter introductions, led Brooklyn with 10 points on 12 minutes of play.

Oklahoma City opened the second on a 9-0 run while Durant and Harden were on the bench. Once Harden checked back in, Mills responded to the Thunder’s hot start with a hot shooting punch of his own — hitting three threes in the span of two and a half minutes to lift Brooklyn 14-2 run and forging a flimsy two-point lead with 6:54 remaining.

Although Brooklyn stemmed Oklahoma City’s momentum push in the closing minute of the second and outscored the Thunder, 31-23 to take a 61-48 advantage at the half — their largest halftime on the road this season — it came with an unfortunate cost.

Harris — who’s only missed 16 games the past four seasons — rolled his left ankle in the second quarter when coming down with a rebound. Nash called a timeout shortly after to take the hobbling Harris out of the game and at halftime, the Nets ruled him out for the remainder of the contest with a left ankle sprain.

Durant led the Nets with 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from three followed by Mills with a strong punch of 14 points in 15 minutes off the bench (25 points off the bench total). Harden contributed 11 points. The Nets held the Thunder to 38.0 percent shooting from the field and 36.4 from deep while they shot 50.0 percent from the field and 45.8 percent from three.

Brooklyn Nets v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

Brooklyn maintained a double-digit lead through the first few minutes of the third. The Nets lifted their foot off the gas and the play got a little sloppy midway through the period, leaving the door open for the Thunder to make it a game. Oklahoma City cut the deficit to as little as nine points but the Brooklyn finished the frame on a 21-13 run to grow their lead to 16 (90-74) heading into the final 12 minutes of the six-game road trip.

The Nets expanded their lead to a game-high 20 points to open the fourth, but it was a little too early to empty the bench against the Thunder — one of the league’s leaders in fourth-quarter comebacks. And that’s what the Thunder did, making it a 10-point game with 5:45 remaining.

Mills and Durant weathered the late Thunderstorm from Oklahoma City with their hot shooting to forge a 113-93 lead with 2:43 remaining. Following Mills’ ninth three, Nash and the Nets emptied the bench to finish the win — Cam Thomas, Jevon Carter, DeAndre’ Bembry, James Johnson and Bruce Brown.

Milestone Watch

In addition to Patty Mills nine 3-pointers, the most off the bench ever by a Nets player, the Nets had a couple of collective milestones. And of course, KD had a couple as well.

The Nets are now 10-4, one win short of the Nets' best start ever. The 2012-13 Barclays Center debut team, went 11-4. The Nets' great ABA teams didn’t even get to that level of early success.

In the 67 road trips with five or more games in franchise history, the Nets have won five games only twice before this. They did it last season (5-0) and in 2012-13 (5-3).

Kevin Durant’s 33 point performance was his league-high seventh game with 30+ points this season. KD went 13-of-14 from the free throw line, matching the most free throws he’s made in any game as a Net. It was also Durant’s 14th straight 20-point game to open a season. He’s now averaging 29.6 points per game, best in the NBA. It was also KD’s seventh straight game with 28 or more points, tying the team record, held by ... Kevin Durant last year.

What’s next

SFChronicleWarriors Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Nets will finally return home to Barclays Center to host the Golden State Warriors (11-2) on Tuesday, November 16. The game is scheduled to tip at 7:30 p.m. ET.

“It’s just another game. It’s 15 games into the season. Obviously, they’re the best team in the league and [have] been playing at an elite level but it’s a regular-season game. We obviously want to go out there and win in front of our home crowd but we’re not going to put too much pressure on ourselves and call this a Finals matchup. We don’t even look at it like that,” said Durant on facing the Warriors Tuesday at home. “It’s another opportunity for us to build who we are, what we want to do out there and keep pushing.”

For a different perspective on Sunday night’s game, check out Welcome to Loud City — our sister site covering the Thunder.