January 25, 2021 | 10: 18pm | Updated January 26, 2021 | 12: 13am
James Harden hasn’t been his aggressive self since coming from Houston, nonetheless attempting to straddle that superb line on his new group. But with Kevin Durant lastly wanting mortal for the primary time, Harden carried the Nets to victory.
Locked in a fourth-quarter nail-biter with the Eastern Conference champs, Harden took what had been a good recreation and turned it right into a 98-85 blowout of Miami on Monday night time at Barclays Center.
With Brooklyn clinging to an 81-80 edge that was tenuous at finest, Harden and Irving sparked a 15-0 run that put the shorthanded Heat away.
“Huge for us. We didn’t have the best scoring night offensively, defensively we just stuck with it, made it very, very difficult for them,” Harden stated. “Offensively we didn’t play well but defensively I thought we were active out there, we contested shots and made things more difficult for them as a team.”
Harden completed with 20 factors, eight assists and 4 rebounds, whereas Durant added 20 and 13 boards. While Harden hasn’t been fairly his typical self since arriving from Houston in a four-team mega-deal, with Durant struggling from the ground it was Harden who scored 10 factors in that pivotal run.
“Just being aggressive. I wasn’t very aggressive all through the course of the sport. That zone form of shook us up a bit of within the sense of eager to gradual us down. They went man just a few possessions and I bought unfastened a bit of bit, so my teammates are giving me confidence to shoot the basketball, be aggressive and that’s it.
“I’m figuring it out, it’s only been five games and that’s what we have a long season for. Once we all find that balance our team will be way better. But it’s still early. As we learn, we’re trying to rack up as many wins as we can. It’s a great feeling when you can do both.”
Before the sport Steve Nash had admitted he needed Harden to be extra aggressive. Monday, the three-time scoring champ had little selection.
Durant struggled via 6 of 21 capturing, together with a 2 of 13 begin. But the Nets nonetheless discovered a technique to win.
“Just wanted to be a little bit more aggressive. You know obviously Kevin and Kyrie [Irving] are really, really good scorers. Easy shots that they missed they normally make,” Harden stated. “We wanted to finish the fourth quarter off the right way and we did that defensively.”
Brooklyn’s maligned protection held Miami to only 14 within the fourth quarter, because the Nets received for the sixth time in eight video games.
The Heat (6-10) performed with out Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro; however they defended and scrapped like all Erik Spoelstra groups do. And they examined the Nets with 2-3 zones and 3-2 zones, snapping Brooklyn’s string of 12 straight video games scoring over 110 factors.
“They definitely mucked the game up and made it a physical game and was able to stay in the game until late in the fourth,” Durant stated. “Our defense held tight the whole game and once we were able to start making some shots there in the fourth, we were able to pull away, but our defense won us this game for sure.”
Brooklyn got here out colder than the climate. The Nets missed their first 5 photographs to fall in a fast 8-0 gap, and set the tone for a lot of the night time. They shot simply 4-for-21 within the first quarter, and missed their first 11 makes an attempt from behind the arc, till Joe Harris lastly hit from deep with 9: 30 left within the half.
The Nets nonetheless trailed 45-38 with a minute left earlier than the break — and 61-56 within the third — earlier than they lastly began to get some traction.
Clinging to an 81-80 edge, Harden drilled a step-back 3 with 4: 59 left, after which a layup to push the result in six. After Harden’s much-maligned protection got here up huge on the opposite finish, blocking Kendrick Nunn, Irving’s bucket made it 88-80 with 3: 54 to play.
Harden and Harris added 3-pointers to pad it to 16, sticking a dagger in Miami.
“Guys were tired,” Nash stated. “We couldn’t buy a basket. We had a lot of good looks. Tired shooting the ball but also tired in that we were a little stagnant against the zone after a really good performance against it the other night. Overall, it was just the fact they hung in there, and James stepped up and made some big shots down the stretch.”