Nets revved up to start trip in Motown
Visit Detroit after closing stand on three-game win streak
Kevin Durant made sure the Brooklyn Nets didn’t depart for their season-high six-game road trip on a down note.
The superstar forward scored 32 points, grabbed seven rebounds, handed out five assists and keyed a third quarter-ending run that secured Brooklyn’s third consecutive win, a 117-108 triumph over the visiting Atlanta Hawks in front of 17,323 fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
Durant gave Brooklyn a 77-75 advantage with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
He would go on to score 13 points during the Nets’ game-deciding 20-4 spurt, which Durant ended on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that opened a 95-79 cushion entering the fourth quarter.
The two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player went 2-of-6 from beyond the arc, but the Nets (5-3) hit 22 3-pointers, their most since draining a franchise-record 27 at Sacramento on Feb. 15.
Previously struggling sharpshooter Joe Harris led the long-range charge, hitting 6-of-8 3s en route to 18 points.
James Harden added 16 points and 11 assists, Patty Mills scored 14 points and Bruce Brown and LaMarcus Aldridge had 10 apiece for the Nets, who continued to load up on home cooking after shooting a team-record 65 percent from the floor in Monday’s win over the Pistons.
“We knew it was going to be a process for us. I’m glad we were able to figure some stuff out the last few games and get back on the right page,” noted Durant before the Nets shoved off for Friday night’s game in the Motor City.
“We know it’s going to be tougher on the road but we’ve just got to keep grinding.”
The Nets will have to grind their way through Toronto (Sunday), Chicago (Monday), Orlando (Nov. 10), New Orleans (Nov. 12) and Oklahoma City (Nov. 14) after visiting the Pistons.
But at least they are shooting the ball better, resulting in a 4-2 homestand after Brooklyn dropped two of the first three games here.
“For me, you’re going to make shots, you’re going to miss shots, but it’s the quality of the looks and I thought we had a great stretch in the second half where we got a lot of quality looks,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash.
“And whether they go in or not, that makes you happy and when you make them, you do find separation.”
This would have been a prime opportunity for the Nets to bring Kyrie Irving back into the fold since they won’t be playing in Brooklyn for nearly two weeks.
But the unvaccinated point guard remains exiled from the team, which will be away from Barclays until hosting Durant’s former team, the Golden State Warriors, here on Nov. 16.
Irving was originally supposed to be allowed to participate in Nets home games pending his first vaccine shot, but the Nets decided not to keep him on as a part-time player since he has failed to adhere to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
Nash was asked before Wednesday’s contest if Irving would be allowed to rejoin the team when or if Mayor-elect Eric Adams decides to ease the mandate after taking office on Jan. 1.
“I might be speaking out of turn, but I think if the mandate changes he’d be welcomed back for sure,” Nash revealed.
Until then, however, the Nets have plenty of games to win, beginning Friday night in Detroit.
“We’re finding that rhythm, we’re finding each other and it’s just getting a lot easier,” Harden said.
NOTHING BUT NET: Last Friday night vs. Indiana, Aldridge quietly became just the 48th player in NBA history to surpass 20,000 career points. The 15-year veteran, who retired last season during a bout with an irregular heartbeat, would have finished 49 points shy of the mark if he had not returned to Brooklyn this year. “It feels good man,” said Aldridge. “A true blessing. Definitely didn’t think it was going to happen after what happened last year. Stuck with it, fall back and definitely felt good to get it done and be back out there and just feel blessed. “ … Trae Young, who led Atlanta to the Eastern Conference finals last season, had 22 points Wednesday, but the Nets limited the budding superstar to 6-of-22 shooting.
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