Nets remain perfect on extended stand
Durant's 39 points lift Brooklyn over Washington, 113-107
Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets continued to fatten up at home for the holidays.
Durant finished with 39 points and Kyrie Irving added 15 of his 27 in the fourth quarter as Brooklyn improved to 3-0 on its season-high seven-game homestand with a 113-107 victory over the Washington Wizards in front of 15,963 fans on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.
Finally above .500 for the first time this year, the Nets (12-11) also completed their first three-game winning streak of the campaign.
Durant has had plenty to do with both accomplishments, averaging 38.3 points per contest since the Nets returned to Brooklyn following a 128-117 loss at Indiana on the day after Thanksgiving.
“I had three (or) four-game stretches where I felt I hit every shot. I can’t get comfortable right now that I’m shooting the ball solid,” Durant deflected when asked if he’d ever been this hot.
“I’m playing care-free basketball right now.”
The two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player buried 13-of-20 shots, knocked down all 11 of his free throws and grabbed five rebounds for the Nets, who have won five in a row at home for the first time since March 11-April 7, 2021.
“Sometimes I have to make sure that I don’t take him for granted,” Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said of Durant, who has missed only 20 of 64 shots on the homestand.
“He’s really the only one that’s guaranteed. Our group is evolving and I keep stressing the idea to be flexible with the object of winning,” Vaughn added.
Joe Harris finished with 14 points, going 4-for-5 from 3-point range, including a clutch 26-footer with three minutes remaining that gave Brooklyn its first double-digit lead of the night, 102-92.
“This was scrappy all the way around. We did a good job executing down the stretch,” said Harris after Brooklyn held off the Wizards.
Corey Kispert cut the deficit to five with 48.1 ticks left on the clock, but Irving and Durant combined to make six straight free throws to give the Nets their sixth win in eight games overall.
“Staying disciplined, not giving up too many easy ones down the stretch,” Irving said of the Nets’ latest win. “(Kevin and I are) playing well off each other, and we just want to keep that going.”
Kristaps Porzingis had 27 points and 19 rebounds and Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma finished with 25 points apiece for Washington (11-12), which went a dismal 6-of-25 from beyond the arc en route to its fourth loss in five games.
The Nets will resume their extended home stretch Friday night vs. Toronto before hosting defending Eastern Conference champion Boston on Sunday as well as Charlotte and Atlanta next week.
“Obviously, you love playing at home. We’re going to be here for another week,” noted Harris. “We have to make these games count while we’re here.”
Thus far, the Nets have been, turning a poor start into an opportunity for a strong finish to an otherwise turbulent campaign.
“Overall, good win for our guys,” said Vaughn. “These games are comng fast and furious, but they are answering the bell.”
NOTHING BUT NET: Swingman Ben Simmons missed the first of what the Nets expect to be at least three straight games with a left lateral upper-calf strain. Simmons, who didn’t play at all last season due to mental-health concerns and a herniated disk, missed six contests earlier this year with left-knee soreness. Both Yuta Watanabe, who is sidelined with a right hamstring strain since Nov. 20, and Simmons will be re-evaluated next week. … Brooklyn will be back on the road Dec. 10, kicking off a four-game trip in Indiana.
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