Brooklyn Boro

Harden helps Nets recover vs. Cavaliers

Scores game-high 27 points as Brooklyn holds off Cleveland

November 18, 2021 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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The Brooklyn Nets put Tuesday night’s humbling loss to the league-best Golden State Warriors in the rear-view mirror with great expediency Wednesday at Downtown’s Barclays Center.

And they have James Harden to thank for the quick turnaround.

Harden scored a game-high 27 points, ripped down 10 rebounds, handed out seven assists and put the game away down the stretch as the Nets rolled to a 109-99 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in front of 16,922 Brooklyn basketball fanatics on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.

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“The good thing is we (came) away with the win,” Harden said.

LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points and Kevin Durant, still nursing a sore right shoulder, had 23 for the Atlantic Division-leading Nets (11-5), who rebounded nicely from Tuesday’s 117-99 drubbing here at the hands of Steph Curry and the Warriors.

Durant had 19 points and Harden put up 16 as Brooklyn raced to a 62-41 lead at the half 24 hours after the Warriors buried them in the second half.

The Nets didn’t exactly get off to a hot start following intermission Wednesday, getting outscored 32-19 to enter the fourth quarter with an 81-73 lead.

“The second half we just had a meltdown,” Harden readily ceded. “They capitalized. They made shots. We got fortunate they missed a lot of open shots in the first half. The second half they made a lot of them.”

Kevin Durant played through a sore shoulder to help the Nets beat the Cleveland Cavaliers at Barclays Center Wednesday. AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

But the Cavaliers (9-7) were without several key players, including former Nets center Jarrett Allen, guard Collin Sexton and forward Evan Mobley.

They hardly had enough firepower to run past the Nets the way the Warriors did in the late stages Tuesday, but Cleveland did pull within 96-89 on a dunk by Dean Wade with 4:43 remaining.

That’s when Harden went to work.

The former league MVP and three-time scoring champion made a driving floater in the lane before feeding Aldridge for an easy basket.

Harden added a 15-foot jumper, two free throws and a step back 27-footer to extend Brooklyn’s advantage to 109-96 with just under a minute to play, ending any hope of a Cleveland comeback while helping the Nets improve to 1-1 on their three-game homestand, which concludes Friday vs. Orlando.

Patty Mills scored 21 points for Brooklyn, which had four 20-point scorers for the first time this season despite the ongoing absence of Kyrie Irving, who remains exiled from the team until he receives his first vaccine shot or COVID-19 mandates are eased in New York City.

Joe Harris (ankle) and Paul Millsap (personal reasons) were also out of the lineup for the Nets. But Harden wasn’t interested in hearing anything about Brooklyn’s roster woes.

“We just (have) to keep improving. No excuses,” he insisted.

Veteran Patty Mills is stepping up for Brooklyn in the absence of Kyrie Irving and Joe Harris. AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

NOTHING BUT NET: After hosting the Magic here Friday night, the Nets will embark on a two-game road trip with stops in Cleveland on Monday and Boston on Wednesday. … Mills’ 21-point effort came three days after the veteran put up a career-high 29 in Oklahoma City on Sunday. “His work ethic is top of the line, so it was a matter of time before he started knocking some of those down, and (Sunday) he got it going, and that’s what we need,” Durant said of Mills, who signed here in August. “We’re gonna need guys to be aggressive, to score the basketball and make plays.”

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