- Isaac Brendel
Nets Notes: Irving goes off, Nets beat best team in basketball
photo credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Nets 1, Kenny 0. Arguably the two best teams in basketball faced off on Tuesday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Nets and Clippers battled out an intense, down-to-the-wire basketball game. This was the first time that the Nets faced their coach of almost four years, Kenny Atkinson - who is responsible for developing a lot of the young talent that the Nets have today, as well as the players who were traded in the James Harden deal, and plenty of other deals. Respected by many, Atkinson in many ways put this organization on the map again. For that, Nets fans owe him a debt of gratitude. This potential NBA finals matchup was the most intense game the Nets have played so far this season, and we got a sneak peek of how this team could perform come playoff time.
It was a very sluggish start for the Nets, and it was all Kawhi Leonard and Los Angeles from tip-off. As the game progressed, the Nets came to life. At halftime, both teams felt like this game was up for grabs. It was back and forth the rest of the way, with the Nets showing dominant flashes and taking a somewhat comfortable lead at one point. The resilient Clippers would not go away quietly, though. Both sides kept the scoring going, playing solid defense, and showing why this game deserved to be on TNT tonight. When all was said and done, Brooklyn pulled out a tremendous team victory.
The Nets improve to 14-9 and are finally finding a groove. “The Big 3” has displayed just how elite they are offensively. Defense was not an issue tonight for the Nets. All hands were on deck, and overall as a team, the chemistry tonight was impeccable. Kyrie Irving recorded 39 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. Kevin Durant had 28 points and 9 rebounds. James Harden had 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists. The concern put forth by many that “The Big 3” would not share the basketball has been debunked. Joe Harris had himself a solid night, recording 13 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Kawhi Leonard did Kawhi Leonard things tonight for his team, dropping 33 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. The Nets came away with the win and by far their best team effort of the season. The final score was 124-120.
An issue for the Nets since the departure of Jarrett Allen in the four-team deal that sent Harden to the Nets is size and defense, but that concern was non-existent tonight. When Steve Nash’s Nets are motivated and are playing at a playoff level and have a playoff mentality, they are nothing short of lethal. This high-octane offense cannot be stopped. Nets GM Sean Marks would still love to find some size, and this still begs the question will he pursue another center? Andre Drummond? JaVale McGee? There are a few pieces that can be moved around, but the best-case scenario is if Marks takes advantage of the NBA buyout window, which ends a bit less than a month from now, on March 1st.
All Nets fans should be satisfied with their team's 48-minute overall complete effort tonight and understand that there’s not a single team they can’t beat when they are on their game. The Nets brand of basketball is entertaining but, more importantly, wildly successful.
The Nets (14-9) play again on Friday against the 2019 NBA champion Toronto Raptors (9-12) at Barclays Center. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM Eastern Time.