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Nets hang on against Pacers, 116-109, to snap 4-game losing streak

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Indiana Pacers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Though it wasn’t the prettiest win, the Nets broke their four-game losing streak Monday to improve to 2-5 on the season. Final Score: Nets 116, Pacers 109.

“It was very important for us to get a response. The win was nice. I care much more about our process and I thought the process was great. The spirit was great, we were connected, we played hard. We were able to do the extra things, the little things, and especially at the end,” said Steve Nash. “They stuck with the task. They played for each other, rebounded the ball better, did so many things better, so we were proud of the group’s effort.”

Things looked good for the Nets in the early goings of this one, building a 24-point lead in the second quarter. Then, in what’s become a bit of a trend early in the season for Brooklyn, the Nets coughed up that advantage with things eventually ending up tied midway through the fourth quarter. Fortunately, behind 36 points from Kevin Durant, along with a season-high nine rebounds and season-high seven assists, the Nets were able to cling to victory.

Durant also surpassed Vince Carter’s 25,728 points to become 19th all-time in scoring. Next up is Kevin Garnett with 26,071 points. In the process, KD broke another VC record, scoring 25+ points for the seventh straight game to start a season.

“It means a lot,” said Durant of the accomplishment. “I love to score the ball. That’s the name of the game. That’s why we play basketball to put points on the board and to shift the game and be mentioned with the greats so to pass somebody I looked up to as a kid — my first NBA jersey was Vince Carter when he was in Toronto so that’s a full circle moment for me.”

The Nets were ready with a video tribute from Carter himself...

(By the way, how long before the Nets finally retire No. 15? It is long overdue.)

A great point by Justin Kabatko. Not only is this the best start for a Brooklyn Net and New Jersey Net, KD’s streak is longer than any New York Net, meaning Julius Erving. And Kabatko notes as well, Durant is the oldest player in NBA history to start so fast.

Kyrie Irving also had another solid outing with 28 points, six assists, and four steals. Speaking of steals, Joe Harris had four as well, which represented a career-high for him.

“Joe’s defense has been great – physical, flying around, chasing (Buddy) Heild all over the place,” said Nash after the game.

Nic Claxton also continued to look the part of Brooklyn’s third-best player. He had himself a tremendous 19-point, 9-rebound, 4-assist, and 4-block performance on Monday.

“Honestly, I was a little lax last game,” said Claxton about his performance in Saturday’s loss. “I would say the last couple of games I’ve been a little lax, and that’s not what got me here. What got me here was just playing every single possession, bringing intensity. And like I say, I’m the anchor of the defense. So really just taking on that challenge and listening, listening and taking constructive criticism and going out and applying it.”

On Indiana’s side of things, Chris Duarte led the charge with a season-high 30 points. Buddy Hield was also impressive with 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

“They’re a tough team to keep at bay with the way they play,” said Nash about the plucky Pacers. “They have a lot of pace, a lot of three-point shooting, they spread you out, they fly around, they shoot threes, they’re good in transition as well.

As a team, the Nets had their second-best 3-point shooting night at 36.7% (11-of-30 from deep), just behind the second game of the season vs. the Raptors.

Brooklyn began Halloween night with a vengeance, building a 12-4 lead before the first Indiana timeout. Kevin Durant led all scorers with five points after the first four minutes of play, and Brooklyn’s defense and floor spacing largely looked more balanced compared to Saturday’s loss to Indiana.

Durant continued to lead the Nets, dropping four more points in the quarter to bring his total to nine. Nic Claxton also did his part, dropping six points in the first while showing tremendous activity around the rim. Yuta Watanabe and Edmond Sumner also showcased some serious energy attacking the basket when run off the 3-point line and in transition, with Watanabe providing tremendous defensive activity on Indiana’s bright young stars, Tyrese Haliburton and Benedict Mathurin. In the end, the Nets finished ahead 33-18 in the first.

Brooklyn got off to a blistering start in the second, as Kyrie Irving hit two early above-the-break threes and then a balletic transition layup to put his Nets up 41-23. Then, the Nets ripped away three-straight steals, leading to seven transition points, bringing the Nets’ lead up to 24 points.

But of course, things couldn’t be that easy.

Chris Duarte, who was averaging just 7.1 points on 33.3% shooting on the season prior to Monday’s game, went on an 11-point scoring run, and his teammate, Buddy Hield, tacked on five points as well. Suddenly, the Nets went into the half with just a 7-point advantage, 61-54.

It was the Nets’ turn to punch back, and three straight catch-and-shoot threes from Durant, Irving, and Royce O’Neale proved to be a great way to open up the third. On the other end, Joe Harris did a great job matching up with Myles Turner in the post on switches, and he put the cherry on top by ripping away a steal from Tyrese Haliburton at the point-of-attack for the coast-to-coast layup.

The Pacers, meanwhile, continued to get outstanding production from Duarte, who poured in 15 additional points on a barrage of 3-pointers, acrobatic layups, and a ridiculous buzzer-beater to end the quarter. Benedict Mathurin also got himself going and drew fouls on three layups down the stretch, connecting on 2 of his 3 free throws to bring his total to 14 points through three quarters. In the end, the Nets maintained their lead, 92-85, headed into the fourth.

The wheels fell off to start the fourth. Hield caught some rhythm with five quick points, while the Nets could not take care of the basketball on the other end nor hit shots. Suddenly, with seven minutes remaining, the Nets were clinging onto a two-point lead.

Then, KD carried his squad down the stretch with seven points in the final six minutes of play. Harris, meanwhile, played some tenacious defense, including a huge stop on Haliburton on a play that largely decided the game. And on the last play, Irving caught a rebound while sitting under the basket, deftly passing it to Harris who dribbled out the clock. Though it wasn’t the prettiest win, the Nets got across the finish line with their second win of the season.

Fight antisemitism

Clearly visible to everyone in the arena — including Kyrie Irving — a group of eight men and women, mostly young, sat courtside Monday near the Pacers bench, each wearing a black t-shirt with the words, “Fight Antisemitism” in white letters.

The group was organized by Aaron Jungries, CEO of Rosewood Realty, a New York commercial real estate company and a longtime Nets season ticket holder. He spoke with Ian O’Connor of the Post during the game...

Jungreis continued...

And according to The Forward, the city’s long-time Jewish newspaper, Irving told the eight fans this:

“He was laughing sarcastically and basically said, ‘I appreciate you guys for coming out, you guys really showed up in numbers,’” one of the eight recalled. “And he also said, ‘I support you guys.’ Which, I mean, he said it all sarcastically while putting up a thumbs up.”

Jungries said he expected Irving’s sarcasm.

“I was expecting that. Look at who you’re dealing with. But [the shirt] was really not for him. It was really for the Nets. They should not keep a guy like that around,” Jungreis told The Post.

Asked if he’d cancel his season tickets, he replied “Oh, definitely. A lot of people are going to cancel, a lot of people. I think they have to discipline him in some way, and make it sincere for him hopefully, if it’s not sincere, I guess that’s the second best thing.”

However, a video apparently made by one of the young fans has emerged. It shows Irving genially speaking with the fans.

Irving was not made available to the media and Steve Nash was not asked about the high-profile protest during post-game appearance.

Prior to the game, Nash said that he looks at the matter as “an opportunity for us to grow and understand new perspectives.”

“I think the organization is trying to take that stance or they may communicate through this, and try to all come out in a better position and with more understanding and more empathy for every side of this debate and situation,” Nash said.

There is speculation that Joe Tsai, who tweeted Friday that he wanted to sit down with Irving, may try to arrange a broader meeting among him, Irving and Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Discrimination League (ADL.) Greenblatt and Tsai are friends and serve together on the board of directors of The Asian-American Foundation, founded by Tsai and others in the wake of attacks on Asians and Asian-Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

There remains no clarity on whether Irving will apologize for a tweet Thursday promoting Hebrews to Negroes, a four-year-old antisemitic video or whether he will face sanctions from the team or league. He finally deleted the tweet Monday which Nash called “helpful.”

Still, there are others who believe despite the promotion of the video to his more than 20 million social media followers, Irving is not antisemitic in the least. Ian O’Connor of the Post spoke to Irving’s AAU coach:

Sandy Pyonin, a Jewish man who has worked with more than three dozen NBA players, weighed in to say that Irving had never exhibited any anti-Semitic tendencies, that the player had been especially kind to young Orthodox campers, and that Irving’s longtime best friend coaches at a New Jersey Hebrew academy with a mission statement that reads, in part, “to love and serve the Jewish People, and to forge a lifelong bond with the Land and State of Israel.”

Said Pyonin: “I think it’s a bad rap.”

Meanwhile, the Post reports that Kanye West — who’s lost a number of brand deals after a series of antisemitic remarks — took to Instagram to share a black and white photo of Irving with the caption, “There’s some real ones still here.”

Next up for Kevin Durant

After passing Vince Carter on the all-time list, next up is another former Brooklyn Net, Kevin Garnett. Here’s the list...

Durant is also the second highest career scorer currently in the NBA, behind only LeBron James who is expected to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the top spot sometime later this season.

Splash Brothers East

Joe Harris moved up a little as well on Monday. With Seth Curry out and Joe Harris going 1-of-2 vs. Indiana, Harris inched ahead of Curry in career 3-point percentage by just a few ten-thousandths of a point. They’re that close. Harris is now No. 3 on the career list, No. 1 among active players. Curry is No. 4 and No. 2.

As Sponge Bob might say...

What’s next

The Nets stay home and host the 3-4 Chicago Bulls on Tuesday for Brooklyn’s second back-to-back of the season. Notably, this is Brooklyn’s first of two back-to-backs this week, with a road-road back-to-back against Charlotte and Washington on Friday and Saturday.

Coverage for the game against Chicago begins at 7:30 on TNT.

For a different perspective on Monday’s game, head to Indy Cornrows, our Pacers sister site.