One recreation after the Nets’ Massive 3 posted their most spectacular win collectively since Kyrie Irving returned final week from COVID exile, they had been all the way down to only one celebrity Thursday evening towards the Thunder.
On the one-year anniversary of the commerce with the Rockets that introduced James Harden to Brooklyn, he couldn’t entrance a lineup with out Irving (attributable to New York Metropolis’s COVID vaccination mandates) and a resting Kevin Durant to victory on the Nets’ house courtroom.
Harden’s 26 factors and 9 assists weren’t almost sufficient because the road-weary and undermanned Nets had been pounded, 130-109, by the Thunder at Barclays Heart for his or her sixth loss in 9 video games.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander netted 33 factors with 10 rebounds and 9 assists and Luguentz Dort scored 27 for Oklahoma Metropolis, which led by as many as 22 factors within the third quarter and by 17 coming into the fourth.
Harden related on simply seven of twenty-two makes an attempt from the ground, however he drained a pair of 3-pointers early within the fourth to key a 13-4 spurt, capped with a lefty drive by Cam Thomas (21 factors) to shut inside 104-96 with 8:28 remaining.
The Thunder (14-27) responded with long-range buckets from rookie Josh Giddey (19 factors), Dort and Gilgeous-Alexander to push the lead again to 18 with 5:30 to go.
Earlier than the sport, coach Steve Nash stopped wanting agreeing with the suggestion that his Nets (26-15) wanted a high-scoring evening of 40 factors of extra from Harden with out Irving and Durant, the NBA’s main scorer.
“I don’t ever actually say these sorts of issues. However I’ll need James to be aggressive, to make performs, to place strain on the protection. And I believe James might be pondering the identical factor,” Nash stated. “So, he’ll relish the chance to attempt to choose up his teammates and show that they will win this recreation no matter who’s within the lineup and who’s not.
“And for me, so long as he continues to enhance the way in which he has over the course of this 12 months, and stays very aggressive and attack-minded, that may make me blissful no matter if he has 25 or 40.”
The Nets additionally had been nonetheless with out bigs Nic Claxton (hamstring) and LaMarcus Aldridge (foot), so rookie heart Day’Ron Sharpe made a second consecutive begin. However he adopted his career-best 20-point effort in Chicago on Wednesday with a quiet recreation, ending with 4 factors in 20 minutes.
The Nets seemed each bit like an undermanned squad enjoying its fourth recreation in 5 nights in permitting the Thunder to pour in 70 factors whereas nailing 11 of 24 from lengthy distance within the first half (20-for-45 total) and carrying a 19-point benefit into intermission.
Gilgeous-Alexander personally accounted for a 12-0 run within the first quarter, whereas additionally scoring 16 straight factors for Oklahoma Metropolis at one level within the interval. He completed the primary half with 21 factors and 7 assists, whereas Dort netted 19 and Mike Muscala nailed three triples and had 11 factors.
Harden paced the Nets with 16 within the half, however he missed eight of 12 photographs by way of two quarters. The opposite Nets starters — Sharpe, Kessler Edwards, Bruce Brown and DeAndre’ Bembry — totaled eight factors earlier than intermission.
“For certain, it’s not simply the rookies. There’s a number of guys which can be going to play that haven’t performed lately. Nice alternative for them,” Nash stated beforehand. “We’ve had a tough stretch right here with journey. It’s vital that we discover a solution to compete and attempt to win this recreation and actually present the character and toughness it takes to get by way of this.”
The Nets closed a 22-point gap to 10 within the third quarter, with David Duke Jr. (13 factors) nailing a few long-range photographs and Brown additionally contributing six factors within the session. However Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley (16 factors) mixed for 11 in a 15-8 run to shut the quarter for a 100-83 recreation coming into the ultimate interval.