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Six Nets finish in double-figures as Brooklyn blows out Orlando, 129-92

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Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

It was blowout Brooklyn basketball.

After going down early, the Nets dismantled the Magic, 129-92. The game featured a 48-point turnaround from being down by 10 early in the first to the final score.

Kyrie Irving paved the way with a near double-double of 27 points and nine assists to go along with five rebounds in 30 minutes, While James Harden flirted with another near triple-double of 20 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists in 33 minutes, the Nets got big boosts from two of their role players. Landry Shamet, who continues to grow his confidence outside the perimeter, finished with 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting overall and a confidence-boosting 5-of-9 from deep. His most impressive stat, however, maybe his plus/minus, a sterling +30! Then, there was Nic Claxton in his second game back from injury.

Claxton, who once again saw early first-quarter minutes, displayed his potential as he finished with 10 points to go along with three rebounds, four steals, two blocks and one assist in 15 minutes, which included a thunderous dunk down the lane. It resulted in a worthy technical for hanging on the rim as Brooklyn’s bench exploded in excitement screaming “He’s Back!”

As a team, Brooklyn finished the dominant win shooting 44.4 percent from deep and 53.3 percent overall while recording 13 turnovers along the way. The Nets are now 22-12 on the season, a half-game out of the Eastern Conference lead. The eight-game winning streak is currently the league’s longest.

“It couldn’t get any worse,” Nash said on the Nets sluggish start. “Fumbling around as we did at the start of the game, but we just tightened up. We relaxed a little and started to find ourselves. Most importantly, we picked up our defense and it was one of those nights that they couldn’t make a shot after the first segment of the game but at the same time, I thought we handled business and increased our intensity. Our decision-making on defense improved and we are pretty solid.”

Now on an eight-game winning streak, Nash credits his players increased bonding, along with their consistent energy and connectivity for their winning stretch.

“I think that is fair to say. We might have turned it around regardless but it is a facet of how we didn’t waiver when we had a slow start and they are up I don’t know 12 and whatever it was for a moment there,” Nash said. “I will say that our energy and connectivity have been outstanding and we are getting better in that department every week. You can feel it, see it, and that is something we got to continue to invest in.”

For Orlando, Nikola Vucevic did about everything to keep their ship afloat. The All-Star finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds, and two assists in 32 minutes followed by James Ennis III with 15 points in 16 m

It was a strange start for both teams, which included four airballs in the opening four minutes of play. Brooklyn started the game disjointed offensively, going 2-of-9 from the field while the Nets while turning Rover the ball three times in that span which resulted in Steve Nash calling a timeout with 6:47 remaining in the first.

Following the timeout, Nash subbed in Nic Claxton and Landry Shamet but the Magic cleaned up their play as Orlando, led by Vucevic. The Nets began to gain a rhythm offensively in the final minute, ending the first trailing 28-24.

The Nets bounced back in the second in a big way, ultimately scoring 60 points in 18 minutes. Brooklyn started their offensive tear with an 8-0 run, regaining the lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and carried it over.

Harden led Brooklyn’s offensive barrage as the Nets made eight straight shots to boost their lead to eight points with 3:58 remaining and they kept rolling. Brooklyn ended the second quarter piling on 41 points and headed into the locker room with a 65-47 lead, shooting 51.7 percent from the field and a growing 40.9 percent from deep. Brooklyn’s 22-point halftime lead marked the second-largest positive point differential in a quarter for the Nets this season. To make things even sweeter, the Nets outscored the Magic 41-19 in the second.

At the half, DeAndre Jordan, who finished with eight points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes, was the only Net starter not in double-figures. Harden, who had three fouls in the half, led the Nets with 17 points to go along with six rebounds and five assists followed by Irving with 14 points in 18 minutes.

Brooklyn clicked offensively throughout the second half showing their fluidity and displaying great ball movement, outscoring Orlando 27-25 in the third to enter the final 12 minutes of play with a lengthy 20-point lead.

The Nets started the fourth by simply pouring it on continuing their barrage offensively. With 7:17 remaining, Nash took out Irving and released his bench as Chris Chiozza and Tyler Cook checked in to join Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Tyler Johnson, and Landry Shamet as the Nets breezed through garbage time to pick up their eighth straight win.

Oh yeah, Kevin Durant missed his ninth game in the last 10. No word on when he’ll back from his hamstring strain. Following the win, Irving expressed how he wants Durant to stay patient and when he does come back, the world will notice.

“We just want him to stay patient, stay peaceful, and when he comes back, the world will be on notice,” Irving said with a smile.

Now, let’s check out some film.

The Film Room

“He’s the point guard, I’m the shooting guard,” Kyrie Irving’s quote on James Harden from a few weeks ago, got a lot of traction on the internetAt ATdd. And from an outside glance, it’s easy to understand why; having someone like Kyrie Irving, who has played point guard his entire basketball life, anoint another player the honor of taking the ball up the floor and creating for teammates was an eyebrow-raiser, sure.

But a large part of the discourse surrounding that quote may have missed the mark.

Here’s the reality: James Harden and Kyrie Irving... they’re co-manning the point-guard spot. And the shooting-guard spot, as well. On some plays, Irving plays away from the action and showcases his unheralded cutting skills. On others, it’s Harden who positions himself in catch position, ready to detonate hip-hoppity step-back threes. At the end of the day, they’re basketball players, flashing different skills and all-world talents depending on the needs of the possession. So perhaps it’s best to throw out positions for a second and focus more on how these two Hall of Famers are playing off one another.

For all the chatter about egos, overlapping skills, and how many basketballs there are (!!), the Nets have played with a sense of humility, looking out for each other’s best interests. On multiple occasions, Steve Nash has noted that his group is cliquing. Watching this group knock down three-pointer after three-pointer with the bench erupting with celebration, it’s tough to disagree.

Milestones upon Milesones

Just a few fun facts from the Nets PR staff... etc.

Most lopsided Nets’ wins in Barclays Center history (since 2012-13):

41-point win - 2/5/20 vs. Golden State

39-point win - 3/4/19 vs. Dallas

37-point win - tonight vs. Orlando

37-point win - 4/10/15 vs. Washington

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The Nets have now scored 120+ points for the 20th time this season in their 34th game.

That matches a franchise-record for 120-point games in a season, previously set in the 2018-19 campaign.

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The Nets’ 41 points in the second quarter represent their 10th quarter scoring 40+ points this season.

Brooklyn tallied 40+ points in a quarter nine times all of last season, and this is already the most 40-point quarters in a season for the Nets since 2016-17 (also 10).

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James Harden is first player in Nets franchise history to average 20+ PPG and 10+ APG over a 20 game span.

He’s averaging 24.9 PPG, 11.4 APG over that stretch

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James Harden is the second player in NBA history to average at least 20 points and 10 assists in his first 20 games with a franchise, joining Guy Rodgers, who did it in 1966 for the Bulls. That’s from Elias Sports.

Bench Mob plus!

The much maligned Nets bench is picking it up and here’s one element that shows it, courtesy of fan netsnut...

The Nets had four bench players who had +/- greater than their minutes played. That’s +/-, not points. That’s not easy to do, especially when you’re only playing 15-30 minutes. Here are the numbers...

  • Landry Shamet: 30 +/- in 29 minutes
  • Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot: 23 +/- in 22 minutes
  • Tyler Johnson: 21 +/- in 20 minutes
  • Nic Claxton: 16 +/- in 15 minutes

We’ve got a whole new Bench Mob!

Nic Claxton: ‘I haven’t shown half of what I have in my bag. It’s going to be fun.’

Nicolas Claxton not only fulfilled his promise on dunking the ball rather than laying up but after getting a technical for hanging on the rim, the Nets superstar duo of Kyrie Irving and James Harden has his fine covered.

“I was just a little overexcited and I got a technical but two of my teammates said they’ll pay the fine so it’s all good,” Claxton said following the win. “And yeah, I’m dunking everything for sure.”

In the third-quarter, Nic picked his spot from the elbow and pulled off a sweet and-1 finish against Mo Bamba. The subtly of this play is the ball-fake to the cutting Kyrie Irving, which gets Bamba leaning the wrong way, providing for the needed airspace to finish through contact.

Turns out, that play was no mere accident. James Harden, superstar guard of the Brooklyn Nets, set Claxton up with the intent to get the young big going.

“James today, he made up a play for me to catch the ball at the elbow,” Claxton explained. “And I caught it and got an easy bucket. That in itself is big. And I told him, ‘appreciate it.’”

What a guy.

Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, called Claxton “the young alchemist.”

“The young alchemist, number 33, he’s just learning from all of us, day-by-day,” said Kyrie. “He’s been working extremely hard to get back on the floor, he wants to earn his playing time, and he wants to go out there and do what he can to provide whatever’s needed. And that’s Nic.

“He’s a great young man. And we want him to develop as a person first. And then when he’s out there on the floor, he’s around high IQ basketball players, and this is the best of the best. So we just wanna pass on the knowledge so that he can carry it on when it’s his time, however many years from now. With us, here, it’s part of our purpose to continue to help him, and he’s doing a great job just receiving that information and applying it.”

While Claxton continues to get acclimated with new superstars, along with new role players, he believes the Nets offensive firepower suits his skillset and makes it easy. He told us that he hasn’t shown half of what is in his bag.

“Honestly, for a guy with my skillset, it makes it easy,” Claxton said on being a role player surrounded by offensive firepower. “When you have the guys around me like TLC, Landry, James, and whoever it may be, you have to respect those guys. You have to respect them out there so it opens up the floor and I haven’t shown half of what I have in my bag but it makes it easy for somebody like me. It creates a lot of space and it’s one on one so it’ll be fun.”

Hiding in Claxton’s bag is his 3-ball. The 6’11” big noted how due to his shoulder surgery he had last season, he had to reteach himself how to shoot but said we’ll all see those shots “for sure.”

“I am doing whatever the team needs me to do. I definitely will attempt and make some threes but that is something that’ll come along and I have been able to put in a lot of work in,” Claxton said. “I had surgery on my shooting shoulder so I had to really focus on my mechanics and reteach myself how to shoot. That has been a process but I have been working on my three-ball and that's something you all will see for sure.”

YES, we can!

With all the Nets game in the second half of the season on national TV, fans were concerned that they’ll miss out on Ian, Sarah, Richard and Grady. Don’t worry, YES went out of its way to assure fans that to assure fans that with one exception, all the 35 games will be on YES whether they’re on TNT, ESPN or ABC.

Joe E. Buckets’ shooting keeps getting more elite

After going 4-of-6 vs. the Magic, Joe Harris is now shooting 53.5 percent from three for the month and a league-leading 50.9 percent for the season. Moreover, Harris’ move up the ladder for 3-point shooter all time took another step up.

As of Friday morning, Harris has the fourth best 3-point shooting percentage of all time at 43.75 percent, passing Drazen Petrovic at 43.74 Thursday night. The only players in NBA history above him are Hubert Davis, Seth Curry and Steve Kerr, the all-time leader at 45.4 percent.

As Sponge Bob might say...

Per Will Hanley

What’s next

The Nets return back in action Saturday when the team hosts the Dallas Mavericks at 8:30 p.m. ET. In the meantime, expect the Nets to officially sign Andre Roberson and/or Iman Shumpert to 10-day contracts.

For a different perspective, check out Orlando Pinstriped Post, our sister site covering the Orlando Magic.