Nets Notes: Brooklyn able to hold on to win after sluggish second half
photo credit: Clarence Tabb Jr., Detroit News
After being tossed around by the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night, The Brooklyn Nets are back to their winning ways. Anxious to get back on the court, Nets head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks understood the struggles this Nets team has had in Detroit against the basement-dwelling Pistons. For the first time since the Pistons bought him out on March 5th, Blake Griffin returned to Little Caesars Arena to face his former team.
On Friday night, the Nets looked to continue their road dominance. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant still out and away from the team, James Harden needed a big game to carry his team to victory. As of late, the Nets look tired and seem to finally be feeling the effects of losing two members of the big three.
In the first half, Brooklyn noticeably outplayed and outworked Detroit. Nash’s Nets posted 34 points compared to Detroit’s 27. Detroit worked their way back in the second half and woke up before halftime. However, despite a Pistons push, the Nets put up 25 points compared to Detroit’s 23, giving them a nine-point lead heading into halftime (59-50).
The Nets came out sluggish in the second half and were outscored 61-54 in the final 24 minutes. Luckily for Brooklyn, the Pistons struggled mightily from the free-throw line in the final minutes. Griffin took a couple of fouls, but the Nets survived and narrowly won 113-111. Harden recorded 44 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists over 42 minutes. This is his third 40+ point game with the Nets. The way “Beard” has carried this team and shown the leadership necessary to get a hot streak going further backs up his pitch for Most Valuable Player (MVP). When asked if he feels his game has grown since his last MVP season and if he feels like he should be in consideration for MVP, Harden said, “I feel like I am the MVP. I mean, it’s just that simple.” He would not comment further on himself but proceeded to bring up his teammates. Harden is as selfless and driven to win as they come.
“I just try to go out there every night and give my teammates everything that I can bring to the game,” Harden said. Friday night, Griffin played his best game in a very long time despite his two late fouls. Griffin had 17 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. Besides Harden and Griffin, no other Nets player had more than ten points. DeAndre Jordan had 10 points and 9 rebounds. Only three Nets players posted double digits in points. As a collective group, the Nets will need to have more hands-on-deck come playoff time. They have the star power and depth to make a deep run but need to show up and take advantage of that. Especially the guys off the bench.
The Nets look to rest up before their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home on Monday night. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM Eastern Time. This will mark the first time these two squads have met in the 2020-21 season. Brooklyn must take advantage of another struggling team.