Scary hours indeed! It was the game of the night on national television and the game of the year everywhere.
The Nets picked up their biggest win of the season Tuesday, defeating the team with the NBA’s best record, the Los Angeles Clippers, 124-120. With the win, Brooklyn improves to 14-9 on the season and has won five of their last six games (nine of their last 12 games) while extending their home winning streak to six games. After the loss, the Clippers fall to 16-6 on the season.
Steve Nash credited the Nets defense in the victory - noting if the team can continue to play with effort on that end of the floor to complement their offense, they will be tough to beat moving forward.
“Great to see and it’s got to be that way if we are serious about this,” Nash said about the Nets Big Three and the team’s defense moving forward. “We have the luxury of offensive talent but we have to defend. That is a really difficult team to defend and we did a great job. Again, it’s tricky when the teams are constantly taking 20 more shots than you are but we will playing up and keep getting better but when they play with the effort they did tonight, we will be tough to beat.”
With five of the NBA’s most prolific scorers on the court, there was no question the game was going to be high-scoring. And it was. Not on the level of the Nets last two games when they scored 147 and 146, but enough to win.
The two teams traded baskets throughout the game. The Nets did not have a single lead in the first half, overcoming an early 12-point deficit. As the final buzzer approached, it was a game of must-needed stops that the Nets won.
With 32.0 seconds remaining, James Harden was called for an offensive foul, leaving the door open for the Clippers with a 118-114 lead. Paul George answered, hitting a corner three, cutting Brooklyn lead to one.
Following a timeout by Nash, the Nets successfully inbounded the ball. Kevin Durant hit a two to grow their lead to three points with 9.8 remaining. The Nets decided to foul Kawhi Leonard, who hit two free throws, followed by Harden throwing a touchdown pass to Jeff Green to grow their lead back to three. Green missed a free throw and things got, well, scary.
With 2.7 remaining, Nets fouled Nic Batum at midcourt and after further review, Nets caught a break. No clear path foul. The officials added time on the clock (3.1 remaining). Batum hit his second free throw.
Finally, after an intense back-and-forth in that final minute, Irving sealed the game, hitting two big free throws as the Nets closed out the game.
It was Irving’s night. The Nets guard, who has a history of stepping up in big games, had himself a huge one. He heated up in the second half and finished with a game-high and season-high 39 points to go along with two assists and five rebounds in 37 minutes. In a game reminiscent of his 54 point game a year ago this week, Irving’s efficiency was off the charts. He finished 15-of-23 overall and 6-of-8 from three. And again, he was perfect from the line, at 3-of-3. Irving is now shooting 95 percent from the line for the season.
Irving has now scored 25+ points in 13 of his 15 games this season. His 39-point performance is the biggest individual scoring performance at Barclays Center this season.
Harden recorded his 50th triple-double of his career, finishing with 23 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds in 43 minutes of play. Harden’s big performance followed with some history as he passed Kevin Garnett (5,445) to move up to 50th place in the NBA’s career-assist leaderboards. In addition, it only took him nine games as Harden became the second Net to record four or more triple-doubles in a season, following in the footsteps of Jason Kidd.
To Harden, it is all about winning over individual stats or breaking individual history. He wants to get his teammates touches and defensively, take on a challenge that the team needs him to do every night.”
“Just coming into this team, obviously leading the league in scoring the last few years, not many players can just try to switch up their entire game and focus on other things. Not many players can. Me, I know the roster. I know what we have on this team and scoring isn't everything,” Harden said about being a multidimensional player. “I try to impact the game in other ways. I try to get my shooters involved. Obviously, Kevin and Kai will get their easier looks when they can. Getting our bigs easy touches around the rim.
“Then defensively, getting after it. Taking upon a challenge whether coach makes me guard that night and take on a challenge to make it tough on them every single night so it is not about points for me and it’s not about stats for me. It’s about getting the win and I think since I’ve been here, I try whatever it takes for us to win and that is all that matters.”
Durant, who was quiet offensively up until the fourth quarter, turned it on when his team needed it most - finishing with 28 points and nine rebounds in 38 minutes. Durant has scored 20+ points in all 17 of his games this season, a personal and franchise record.
By now, if there was still any doubt, it is safe to say the Nets “Big Three” can play together. Moreover, they’re having fun.
“They’re so great, sometimes you get caught watching,” said Kyrie Irving of his co-stars with admiration. “It’s pretty easy to just kinda sit there and be a fan of those guys. And it’s just such a deep admiration that we’ve had since we were kids, growing up in the same high-school classes––or them above me, I’ve looked up to them for so long. Now to be teammates, you know, sometimes you can get caught watching. It’s okay; it’s greatness right there.”
Kevin Durant was just as thrilled about the early returns on Brooklyn’s Big 3.
“You got guys that can do multiple things on the floor late in the games,” explained Durant. “Any coach in America wants the ball in their best player’s hands. We got three guys that are unselfish, that know how to play. And I think we made the right plays down the stretch, especially Kyrie and James. Controlling the ball. I felt like when those guys got it up top, they had the defense at their mercy.”
As a team, the Nets finished the win shooting 57.0 percent overall and 41.9 percent from behind the arc. Brooklyn finished with 17 turnovers and competed on the boards, winning that battle 44-39.
For the Clippers, Leonard paved the way scoring 33 points in 39 minutes followed by George with 26 points. As a team, the Clippers shot 45.5 percent from the field and 41.7 percent overall.
With the Nets now 6-0 on national TV. Primetime Scary Hours.
Now, let’s dive into some exciting film work.
The Film Room
While this “Film Room” isn’t necessarily representative of the terrific game in, really, anyway at all, I found this moment in the second quarter to be thoroughly comical. After Reggie Jackson leaks out in transition, he attempts an up-and-under at the basket... and fails miserably. The ball lands in James Harden’s hands, who flips a killer outlet pass to Kyrie Irving on the other end of the floor, and KYRIE attempts an up-and-under... THE EXACT SAME MOVE!!! And nails it, of course, because he’s Kyrie Irving and he makes these absurdly difficult shots in his sleep. Everything you can do, I can do better in basketball form.
James Harden milestones
They keep piling up...
—Tonight was not only Harden’s fourth triple double as a Nets (in nine games), but it was also the 50th of his career, putting him eighth all time.
—Harden’s 13 assists tonight give him 5,445 career assists, moving him into a tie with Kevin Garnett for 50th in NBA history in career assists. Next up: Dennis Johnson (5,499).
—He is also fifth all-time in 3-pointers made, with 2,373, having recently surpassed Vince Carter
And he is not alone. Kevin Durant is also in the milestone business. Per ESPN, Kevin Durant reached 500 points with the Nets in just 17 games. That is tied for the second-fastest a player has reached 500 points with a new team in NBA history. Only Wilt Chamberlain did it faster with the Warriors in 1959-60 (14 games).
Steve Nash says it’s “probably too soon” to see Norvell Pelle
Obviously, the center position is (how do I put this politely?) up in the air, given the Nets decision to start Jeff Green––who entered the league as a small forward––at center against the LA Clippers. Many have been hoping to see the elusive recent signee, Norvell Pelle, get his opportunity to see some floor time. Well, according to Steve Nash, that opportunity to do so is a bit unclear.
“I’d say it’s probably soon,” said Steve Nash about Reggie Perry getting minutes against LA. “But we can’t say that forever. We haven’t gotten in the gym with him, to be honest. We were on the road and then we had the day off yesterday after the road trip. The guys just got in this evening for the game. We’ve got a couple of practice days coming up where we can get a look at him and have a much better scope of how ready he is and when he can jump in there.”
Tyronn Lue on Landry Shamet: “He is just trying to find his niche and with a new team and a new system, it can take some time.”
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Tyronn Lue was asked about how he thinks his former player Landry Shamet is doing with the Nets. To Lue, he believes with Shamet learning a new system and playing a different way, noting running off screens, will need to take some time to adjust. In addition, Lue said Shamet is still looking to find his niche with the Nets in the new system.
“Fitting into a new system is tough because he is used to running off screens and playing a different way so I think he will be fine,” Lue said on Shamet. “The way he shoots the basketball, he is going to be okay. He is just trying to find his niche and with a new team and a new system, it can take some time.”
Shamet had recorded DNP’s in four of his last seven games, but is averaging 5.7 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 18 games played. The 23-year-old is shooting 34 percent from the field and a career-low 30 percent from three-point range.
In other words, be patient with the kid.
As SpongeBog might say...
Per Will Hanley.
The Nets will return back to action when the team hosts the Toronto Raptors Friday, February 5 at the Barclays Center. The game is set to tip-off at 7:30 PM ET and will be broadcast on ESPN.
For a different perspective, check out Clips Nation, our sister site on SB Nation covering the Los Angeles Clippers.
- Box Score: Brooklyn Nets 124, Los Angeles Clippers 120 - NBA.com
- Game Highlights: Brooklyn Nets 124, Los Angeles Clippers 120 (Video) - NBA.com
- Highlights: Kyrie Irving vs. Clippers | 39 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST (Video) - NBA.com
- Irving scores 39 points as Nets cool off Clippers, 124-120 - Brian Mahoney - AP
- Kyrie Irving’s 39 help Nets edge Clippers - Larry Fleisher - Reuters
- Nets give title-thirsty fanbase glimpse of what could be - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- Nets take down Clippers in battle of NBA elites - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- James Harden has triple-double in return from thigh injury - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets bounce back by defeating league-leading Clippers - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Steve Nash making plans to shore up Nets’ defense - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Nets’ Big 3 combines for 90 points in win over Clippers - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- ‘Finish the games’: Nets admit they must play better against lesser opponents - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- With victory over Clippers, Nets prove they are who we thought they were: championship contenders - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Inside how the Nets pulled out a big win over the Clippers: ‘We stayed the course’ - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- GAME GRADES: Irving Powers Nets to Hard-Fought Win Over Clippers - Elizabeth Swinton - The Brooklyn Game
- NETS 124, CLIPPERS 120: KYRIE IRVING SCORES 39 AS BROOKLYN BEATS LA - Tom Dowd - Brooklyn Nets
- NETS VS. CLIPPERS: KEVIN DURANT, JAMES HARDEN, AND STEVE NASH TOP QUOTES - Tom Dowd
- GALLERY: NETS VS. CLIPPERS - Brooklyn Nets
- Brooklyn’s Big 3 too much for Clippers’ dynamic duo and cuts short their comeback - Andrew Greif - Los Angeles Times