Nets score a perfect 10 in Atlanta
Extend Brooklyn-best winning streak to double digits
The narrowest of the Nets’ Brooklyn-best 10 straight wins was just as sweet as the previous nine.
Dejounte Murray’s bid for a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out, leaving Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and the rest of the red-hot Nets to celebrate their latest conquest, a scintillating 108-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in front of 20,221 fans at State Farm Arena.
“There’s a lot of stuff going on the past couple of weeks that shows us what kind of team we want to be,” noted Durant. “(Brooklyn head coach ) Jacque (Vaughn) is keeping us aware of what we need to do.”
Brooklyn (23-12), which has won 10 in a row for the first time since a franchise-record 14-game winning streak in 2006, got a game-high 28 points from Irving and 26 points and a season-best 16 rebounds from Durant, who also contributed eight assists and a pair of blocked shots.
None of it appeared to be enough when Murray, guarded tightly on top of the circle, unleashed a high, heaving 27-footer that caught the back of the rim and fell harmlessly as the Nets continued their run back to relevancy and serious Eastern Conference contention.
Brooklyn owns the best record in the NBA since Nov. 17 at 17-3 and has also risen to the fourth best mark in the league overall, ranking behind only Boston and Milwaukee in the East.
Down by 15 in the second quarter, Brooklyn got a huge lift from sharp-shooter Patty Mills, who scored all 12 of his points in the period.
The Nets took the lead for good with a 17-3 run that was highlighted by Irving’s eight consecutive points to begin the fourth quarter, opening a 93-82 cushion with 9:21 to play.
“For me specifically, when the fourth quarter hits, it’s winning time,” Irving said. “That’s all I really know. When I’m out there with that group to start the fourth, I know (Durant) is resting a little bit, so I just have to raise my aggression level and raise my efficiency up.”
Despite playing without leading scorer Trae Young, top rebounder Clint Capela and forward De’Andre Hunter, the Hawks (17-18) still forged a 104-104 deadlock on Aaron Holiday’s 3-pointer with 1:48 remaining.
Durant answered with a 7-foot pull-up and added a 17-foot jumper with 1:06 left that made gave Brooklyn a 108-106 advantage.
Murray missed what proved to be a critical free throw with just under 30 seconds to go and then flirted with breaking the Nets’ first 10-game winning streak in 16 years.
“We went out there in the second half and did what we had to do,” said Irving.
Nic Claxton added 17 points and Ben Simmons finished with 10 for Brooklyn, which won despite forcing only three turnovers.
Murray had 24 points and John Collins added 10 for the Hawks, who dropped their second straight game.
“I saw fight from our guys tonight,” Hawks head coach Nate McMillan said. “You can live with that. I thought from start to finish we stepped up and played. We didn’t think about the guys that were out. The guys that were playing came out and played to win.”
Brooklyn will try to make it 11 wins in a row in the finale of this three-game road trip on New Year’s Eve in Charlotte.
“We didn’t have an identity to start the season, but the last month we found an identity,” Durant pointed out.
“We’re just taking it day by day,” Irving added.
NOTHING BUT NET: The Nets will return to Brooklyn Monday to face the San Antonio Spurs before embarking on another three-game trip beginning next Wednesday in Chicago. … Joe Harris (left knee) could be back with the team later this week, but has missed three straight games due to soreness. … The Nets will try to win their sixth straight road game in Charlotte Saturday night.
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