Nets play long ball in Sacramento
Hit record 27 3-pointers en route to third straight victory
The Nets made history Monday night in Sacramento, California, hitting a franchise-record 27 3-pointers en route to their third consecutive win.
But when they had finished torching the twine over and over again at a fanless Golden 1 Center, all anyone wanted to talk about was Brooklyn’s commitment to defense.
“It’s really the defense that we’re trying to continue to work with,” said rooke head coach Steve Nash after his team used a blistering 20-0 third-quarter run to pull away for a 136-125 triumph over the slumping Kings.
“And I was proud of the way we continue to grow down there.”
Kyrie Irving scored a season-high 40 points, drilling an eye-popping 9-of-11 3-pointers, for the Nets (17-12), who haven’t lost since a humbling 122-111 defeat at league-worst Detroit on Feb. 9.
Brooklyn has rolled over Indiana, Golden State and the Kings in its last three games, displaying an instant and strong response to Nash’s light scolding and questioning of his team’s collective approach following the loss to the Pistons.
The Nets did it Monday without Kevin Durant, who sat out with what the team described as a “mild hamstring strain”, suffered during Saturday night’s win over his former Warriors teammates. Durant was deemed highly unlikely to be available for Tuesday night’s game in Phoenix as well.
But Irving and James Harden, who completed his fifth triple-double as a Net since arriving here last month with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists, were more than enough against a Sacramento (12-15) team which lost its fourth in a row.
“Offensively, we’re going to have nights like this. What’s going to get us over the top is defense,” Harden re-iterated.
“That third quarter we took it upon ourselves collectively to get stops and guard. That allowed us to get out in transition and get easy buckets.”
Brooklyn was defending an 82-80 lead with 7:20 left in the third quarter before Jeff Green and DeAndre Jordan made consecutive dunks and Joe Harris sank a 23-footer.
Irving scored eight points during the extended spurt as the Nets opened a 102-80 cushion on Harden’s 26-footer with 2:44 left in the period.
Jeff Green and Landry Shamet scored 13 points apiece and Harris, DeAndre Jordan and Tyler Johnson added 10 each as Brooklyn placed seven scorers in double figures and held the Kings (12-15) to 20 points during the critical third quarter.
“This was the vision right here — this game itself,” Harden noted.
“From top to bottom, no matter when your number is called, you’ve got to be ready to come in and contribute no matter what it takes. I think each individual guy has that mindset and that’s a championship-caliber team already.”
It will be even more so when Durant returns to action, be it in Los Angeles later this week against the Lakers (Thursday) or Clippers (Sunday).
Hassan Whiteside had 26 points and 16 boards for the Kings, who will be in Downtown Brooklyn next Tuesday for the first game of the season with fans in attendance at the Barclays Center.
“Unfortunate, but we knew this was going to be that type of test,” Kings head coach Luke Walton ceded.
“They’re not an easy team to stop, and as soon as we made mistakes … they turned them into 3, 3, 3 like that. Tough to beat a team when they hit 27 3s.”
It’s almost impossible actually.
Especially with the Nets bearing down on defense when they have to.
“Hopefully we’re turning a little bit of a corner (on defense),” Nash said.
“But a long way to go, and it’s going to take a lot of effort and a lot of concentration and togetherness, but we’re on the right path right now.”
NOTHING BUT NET: The Nets requested waivers on center Norvel Pelle after Monday night’s game. Pelle was signed by the Nets on Jan. 28 and appeared in three games off the bench, averaging 2.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 9.3 minutes per game. … Brooklyn has already established a new franchise record by scoring at least 130 points in eight games this year. … By winning the first two contests on this five-game road trip, the Nets improved to 6-7 away from Barclays and moved into a tie with Milwaukee for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, just 1 1/2 games behind first-place Philadelphia (18-10).
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