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Kyrie Irving and James Harden combine for 45 in All-Star Game

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2021 70th NBA All-Star Game Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It was the usual NBA All-Star game full of swishes, dishes, slams, and shooting from the parking lot. And a whole lot of Atlanta Hawks PA Announcer Ryan Cameron crying out, “for THREEEEEE.”

Kyrie Irving and James Harden represented Brooklyn and Team Durant and the Nets backcourt did not disappoint. Irving displayed his box office skills under the All-Star lights.

The seven-time All-Star had quite the first half, finishing with a team-high 15 points, eight assists, and two rebounds in 15 minutes of play on 6-of-8 shooting overall and 2-of-4 coming from downtown. Two of his 15 came with this speedy yet smooth coast-to-coast.

While Irving was leading Team Durant, Harden led the bench with a pair of threes as he finished with nine points on 3-of-6 shooting from deep to go along with two assists in 12 minutes. It wouldn’t be an All-Star game without his signature step back, which made an appearance.

As a team, Team Durant finished the half shooting 51.5 percent and 25.0 percent from deep.

Brooklyn’s backcourt showed out in the second half as Irving weaved his way down the lane while Harden shot 13 of Team Durant’s 72 threes. Irving finished with the first double-double of the night with 24 points and 12 assists to go along with five rebounds in 32 minutes.

“It’s always incredible. I’m grateful to be able to share the floor with some highly talented individuals on and off the floor,” Irving said. “To get a chance to take a break from everything from the first half of the season. All of us have been playing hard for our respective teams and to just come out here and put on a show for the fans that are watching from home and the fans that were able to make it to the game tonight.

“It’s a true honor and we work every single day in order to separate ourselves amongst each other. It’s just great that we got a chance to play out in front of fans.”

As for Harden, he led the bench for Team Durant, finishing with 21 points on 7-of-13 from deep to go along with four assists and two rebounds in 32 minutes of play. He was as advertised –– knocking quick-strike step-back threes, whipping skip passes, and playing with unshakable confidence.

“It was great. Obviously, it’s some of the best talent in the world. The opportunity to share the court with them and have fun,” said Harden. “The shot-making is obviously elite, ball-handling talent. It felt great. A little upset we didn’t come out to win, but those guys got hot and made some big-time shots.”

James Harden on Blake Griffin: “I’m sure he wants to win.”

With Blake Griffin committing to the Nets on a minimum deal (Sean Marks has done it again!) after a buyout with the Detroit Pistons, the pair of Brooklyn superstars were naturally asked about the big news. James Harden gave a brief synopsis of what to expect.

“I’m sure he wants to win. If he’s passed up more money to obviously stay in Detroit, he wants to win and he wants to have an opportunity to play meaningful minutes, and I’m assuming that’s one of the reasons why he came,” said Harden. “Obviously, we know the athletic and high-jumping Blake. But as of these last couple of years, he’s knocking down the three-ball a little bit better, the ball-handling is a lot better. He can be a great contribution to this team.”

Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, declined to comment –– at least until the team returns to Brooklyn and they get Blake Griffin’s signature on an NBA contract.

Game Grades

In Kevin Pelton’s player-by-player analysis of the game, both James Harden and Kyrie Irving got a grade of A.

Harden:

Similar to his shift in play this season since joining the Brooklyn Nets, Harden was content to operate primarily outside the arc. Of his 14 shot attempts, 13 were 3-pointers, and Harden made seven of them. He also made one of the night’s better extra passes, swinging the ball to Zach LaVine for an open corner 3.

Irving:

In the early stages, it looked like Irving was making a run at his second All-Star MVP award. He scored or assisted on seven of his team’s first nine field goals, including a 3-pointer to open the scoring. Irving’s scoring pace slowed after halftime, though he still finished with the night’s only double-double: 24 points and a team-high 12 assists.

What’s next

The Nets will tip off their second half regular season schedule against the Boston Celtics Thursday, March 11. The game is set to tip at 7:30 PM ET.