It wasn’t pretty, but the Brooklyn Nets hung on. Whew!
For only the sixth time in franchise history, the Brooklyn Nets have won 10 straight games after the 108-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. The current win streak is the longest win streak in the league at any point this season. Brooklyn is also 17-3 in their last 20 games, which matches the best 20-game stretch at any point in Nets history. After going a league-best 11-1 in the month of December, Brooklyn is also just two games behind the Boston Celtics (one in the loss column) and with the Bucks losing to the Bulls and the Nuggets losing to the Kings late, Brooklyn has the second best record in the NBA behind Celtics. And on and on.
“[Winning 10 in a row] sounds good, especially since there’s just been an up and down vibe with our team the past few years,” KD said postgame. “So it’s good to win a game and have some fun.”
Kyrie Irving led the charge with 28 points on the night, 15 of which came in the fourth. He continued his hot shooting, going 5-of-11 from deep. At points, he wasn’t just in another frame of reference. He was in another world.
“For me specifically, when the fourth quarter hits, it’s winning time,” said Irving after the game. “That’s all I really know.”
Irving’s 8.8 points in the fourth lead the NBA, and he’s averaged 14.6 in the final frame in Brooklyn’s last 5 games. Here are some highlights of Irving’s extraterrestrial fourth-quarter showing against the Hawks.
15 in the fourth.— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) December 29, 2022
KAI took over down the stretch pic.twitter.com/RO2qmEiv38
Kevin Durant, meanwhile, had 26 points on 47.1% shooting. He filled in for the Nets in other ways, too, grabbing 16 rebounds, a high for him as a Net and his most rebounds in a game in six years (he grabbed 17 boards as a Warrior against the Toronto Raptors in 2016).
“To be honest I think my teammates did a great job boxing out,” Durant said postgame in discussing his 16 boards. “And I was just reaping the benefits of that.”
Nic Claxton also had a solid showing, putting up 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting and 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season, which is a team-high. Clax also had 6 blocks, which ties a career-high for the fourth-year center.
“We lean on Nic a lot and he produces for us and continues to,” said Jacque Vaughn. “And we need him and we love him. And we’re going to continue to ask him to do everything for us: Block shots, rebound, run the floor, play perimeter guy, play post guys.”
Atlanta was led by John Collins, who dropped 21 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, and Dejounte Murray, who nearly had a triple-double with 24 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds.
The first quarter began with a plethora of highlights; a ferocious ankle breaker from Irving against Aaron Holiday that led to a 3-pointer; a pair of highlight alley-oop dunks from Claxton of gorgeous pick-and-roll passes from Kevin Durant. Yet, with the Hawks starting off sizzling hot on the home floor— 66.7% from three — Brooklyn ended the first ahead by just a hair, 31-30.
The second quarter started off poorly for Brooklyn when Jacque Vaughn put in a lineup of Seth Curry, Patty Mills, Yuta Watanabe, T.J. Warren, and Ben Simmons. The small backcourt of Curry and Mills hemorrhaged points and playing without either Durant nor Irving torpedoed the offense. Atlanta quickly went on a 17-5 run. Though Brooklyn went on an 8-0 run late in the quarter, the Hawks finished the half up 63-56.
Brooklyn closed the gap quickly in the third quarter with a 10-4 run. At the 0:55-mark, Yuta Watanabe hit a layup through a sea of arms to give Brooklyn its first lead since early in the second quarter. After holding Atlanta to just 17 points in the quarter, the Nets entered the fourth up 83-80.
“The urgency that was showed in the third quarter was pretty impressive. We weren’t satisfied with the way we played the first half. And that group in the third quarter, they only gave up 17 points,” said Vaughn. “We talked about taking pride in guarding the basketball and whoever is in front of you, being able to guard him and take that challenge on and just lean into competing.”
For the second straight game, Irving caught fire to start the fourth. He nailed a long two, a 3-pointer, and then canned a transition three all the way from Savannah to give Brooklyn its first double-digit lead. The Hawks responded, going on their own 10-0 run midway through the fourth to close the gap behind shotmaking from Okongwu and Murray.
Kyrie decided to take things into his own hands once more, dropping in seven more points in two minutes. Atlanta, however, stayed close after a 3-pointer from Bogdan Bogdanovic and a three from Aaron Holiday in transition to tie the game at 104 apiece at the 1:48 mark in the fourth. Durant then hit a pair of short-range jumpers after driving to his left, and so Atlanta began to throw double-teams at him, which resulted in the Nets going scoreless the rest of the way. Fortunately, Dejounte Murray missed a near-halfcourt heave at the final buzzer and the Nets hung and won by a single point.
Asked post-game about the key to the Nets winning streak, here’s what Vaughn had to say:
“It is belief and that’s a huge part of the NBA,” Vaughn said. “Is the confidence and belief, no matter what situation you can come out on the other side.”
His superstars agreed and gave credit to Vaughn (who was a Nets player during the franchise’s last 10-game winning streak in 2005-06.)
“We walk into every game believing ‘All right, if we stick to this template, this structure that we have, we’ll be fine regardless of what goes on in the game’... just knowing what we want to do every time we step on the floor keeps our mind at ease, and we’ll have that belief in whatever Jacque tells us,” said Durant who says the Nets are finally developing an identity.
“These little details that we’re just aware of game to game, I just think that we’re doing a great job of talking and communicating when we come to the bench,” Irving said, “Jacque holding us accountable; him coming in as a head coach and really putting his own DNA on it. And us just following the game plan.”
- Kevin Durant hit his 1,830th 3-pointer, tying him for 20th place all-time with Chauncey Billups. Kyrie Irving had five threes, giving him control of 50th place all-time.
- Nets extended their season-best win streak to 10 games with tonight’s win at Atlanta:
--Sixth win streak of 10+ games in franchise history (first since 2006). The streak is now the fourth longest in franchise history. A win Saturday would make it the third longest streak.
—Longest win streak in the league this season.
—The Nets have 14th win in their last 15 games.
- The Nets are 17-3 in their last 20 games, matching the best 20-game stretch at any point in a season in franchise history. Brooklyn has also won six straight road games, tied for the longest road win streak in the league this season.
- Nic Claxton (17 points, 10 rebounds, career-high-tying six blocks) has recorded his team-high 10th double-double of the season. Claxton has now doubled his double-double total from his first three NBA seasons combined (five).
Joe Jesus in the building
Joe Johnson, future Hall of Famer and fan favorite wherever he played, was courtside at State Farm Arena to watch the Hawks and Nets...
Joe Johnson was in attendance tonight for the Nets/Hawks game in Atlanta pic.twitter.com/63UGAm0z7N— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) December 29, 2022
Johnson played seven seasons for Atlanta, four for Brooklyn. No word on who he was rooting for, but he was wearing black and white.
Also, Vince Carter who does analysis for Hawks games was on hand and gave Kevin Durant a pre-game hug.
Joe Harris status
Brian Lewis reports Joe Harris remains in Brooklyn getting treatment for his sore knee. It’s unclear if he’ll fly to join the Nets for a practice Friday in Atlanta, join them in Charlotte to play the Hornets on New Year’s Eve, or miss the whole rest of the trip. An MRI on his knee proved negative.
“No, no more clarity. With the two days in between, he’s still back in Brooklyn. We’ll check with him [Thursday] as he continues to get treatment. But no, no further update yet,” said Jacque Vaughn, who’s expecting an update on Harris Thursday.
“Yeah, well, [Thursday] we have some more information. [Thursday] will be a recovery day off anyway, so it won’t impact the entire group. The day after that, we could practice a little bit before heading to Charlotte. So hopefully [Thursday] we have some more.”
It was another win for the Nets wearing their Jean-Michel Basquiat-inspired white uniforms. In fact...
Brooklyn heads to Charlotte on Saturday — New Year’s Eve — for its final game of the four-game road trip. Coverage of the game against the Hornets begins at 7 PM EST on the YES Network.
For a different perspective on tonight’s game, head to Peachtree Hoops, our Hawks sister site.
- Box Score: Brooklyn Nets 108, Atlanta Hawks 107 - NBA
- Game Highlights: Brooklyn Nets 108, Atlanta Hawks 107 (Video) - NBA
- Highlights: Kyrie Irving vs. Hawks / 28 PTS (Video) - Brooklyn Nets
- Highlights: Kevin Durant vs. Hawks / 26 PTS, 16 REB (Video) - Brooklyn Nets
- Kevin Durant on 10th straight win (Video) - Meghan Triplett - YES Network
- Vaughn on win vs. Hawks (Video) - YES Network
- Kyrie Irving on win vs. Hawks (Video) - YES Network
- Kevin Durant on defensive showing (Video) - YES Network
- Patty Mills discusses 108-107 win over Hawks (Video) - YES Network
- Nets win 10th straight, beating short-handed Hawks 108-107 - George Henry - AP
- Nets survive late surge to clip Hawks, win 10th straight - Reuters
- Nets slip past Hawks for 10th consecutive victory - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets’ Kevin Durant gets ‘hands dirty’ with stellar defensive play - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- Nets avoid trap game, beat Hawks for 10th straight win - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- For Durant and Nets, belief is half the battle. Can they solve the other half? - John Hollinger - The Athletic
- Jacque Vaughn attributes Nets’ run to wave of ‘confidence and belief’ - Nick Friedell - ESPN
- Inside The Nets’ Power Of ‘Belief’ - Chris Milholen - Sports Illustrated
- By Focusing On What He Does Well, Simmons Hoping To Use Nets Opportunity To Rewrite Narrative - Steve Lichtenstein - Steve’s Newsletter
- Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving lead Nets past Hawks to become first team with 10-game winning streak this season - Jack Maloney - CBS Sports
- Hawks’ rally falls short as Nets pull off 10th straight win - Lauren Williams - Atlanta Journal-Constitution