The Brooklyn networks they are officially the third seed in the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn won its ninth straight game to extend the longest active winning streak in the association with a 125-117 victory over the cleveland cavaliers. The Nets’ streak is the longest winning streak in franchise history since 2005-06, when Jacque Vaughn was backup point guard, and Brooklyn is a league-best 10-1 for the month of December. The win was also the team’s 20th since Vaughn took over the team in early November and the Nets were in 10th place.
Perhaps most importantly, the Nets have ruined the narrative that they can’t beat good teams, beating the Warriors, Bucks and Cavs in one week.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving each scored 32 points, joining Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum as the only pair of teammates to have five 30-point season game performances during this young NBA season. Irving’s seven 3-pointers were a season-high and, though Durant fouled for the first time in his tenure with the Nets late in the quarter, he made five 3-pointers. Between the two superstars, they were 21 of 37 combined, including 12 of 19 from deep.
TJ Warren was also exceptional off the bench, scoring a season-high 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and a season-high 8 rebounds in 27 minutes (which was also a season-high). He was the highest point total in exactly two years. The 6’9” forward scored 23 for the pacemaker on December 26, 2020 before a series of foot injuries sidelined him until December 2 of this year.
Darius Garland paced all the scoring with a ridiculous 46 points and fueled the Cavaliers’ comeback in the fourth quarter.
Brooklyn’s shooting divisions were outrageous; the Nets shot 57.1% from the field and a whopping 60.0% from three, their second-best performance from distance this season behind only their 63.6% outside shooting on the 143-113 win about him warriors of the golden state. That ridiculous shooting performance made up for the paint points discrepancy, which Cleveland led, 48-34, at the final buzzer.
The bottom line was that the box score lines didn’t tell the full extent of the game’s story. Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton didn’t give him big numbers offensively, but Simmons never let Donovan Mitchell start and Claxton had the same effect on Allen. As Claxton noted of his former teammate after the game, “I have a lot of experience playing against him,” referring to the season and a half they both spent with the Nets. Mitchell finished with a 5-of-16 shooting line and 15 points, about half his season average of 28.9, while Allen fired five shots for the game, hitting just two.
Early on, both teams showed why they are the best defensemen. Brooklyn frontman Simmons and Nic Claxton started a 1-for-4 combined from the field against the huge duo of Cleveland’s Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Meanwhile, the Nets completely ignored Lamar Stevens, a low-percentage outside shooter, to clog Cleveland’s driving lanes.
Fortunately, behind some absurd shots from Royce O’Neale, Durant and Warren, who hit a 3-pointer and an absurd ending and 1, the Nets found their rhythm on offense. Ben Simmons was also exceptional to start thanks to his excellent interior defense and presence on the offensive glass, and the Cavs as a team shot just 36.4% from the field in the quarter. All told, the Nets got off to a terrific start, leading 34-22 after one.
The Cavaliers opened the second quarter on an 11-6 run with Kevin Durant sitting out to cut Brooklyn’s lead to seven. There were a couple of fun moments when Brooklyn’s center from the past, Allen, went head-to-head with his center from the future, Claxton. Allen attempted to set Allen up on one end and missed badly after Claxton stood him up; and at the other end, Claxton bested Allen for the beautiful glass finish. It was that kind of night.
Still, Brooklyn struggled to score for most of the quarter with just 10 points until Jacque Vaughn put in a small lineup of Durant, Irving, Warren, O’Neale and Simmons to break the point drought. It worked. Beautifully. Brooklyn went on an 18-4 run to close out the half. Irving made three 3-pointers and a long shot for 11 points in less than four minutes. Brooklyn entered halftime leading by 15 points, up 64-49, the biggest halftime lead of the season on the road.
Cleveland fought back to start the third. An 8-0 run closed Brooklyn’s lead to 10. Brooklyn responded with a 10-3 run to regain the lead to 15 points after a pair of 3-pointers from Durant. When the Cavaliers went with a zone defense down the stretch, Brooklyn quickly ripped holes in the coverage with his strong shooting and cutting. The Nets entered the fourth quarter leading 91-79.
The last quarter was the Kyrie Irving show. Irving had seven points in less than two minutes to give Brooklyn a 19-point lead with just over 10 minutes to go. The plucky young Cavaliers, however, didn’t go away, going 17-7 after Irving’s scoring burst. Durant didn’t care, as Ian Eagle said on the YES broadcast. He hit two 3-pointers and made free throws against Evan Mobley for eight points.
Garland matched it on the other end. Garland had 13 points in three minutes to cut Brooklyn’s lead to nine. By the 4:07 mark in the quarter, Garland had already reached the 40-point mark. Things got especially scary when KD fouled out at the 1:54 mark in the fourth quarter. With only Irving on the court to fulfill all-star duties for him, Cleveland threw a slew of double-teams against Brooklyn’s All-Star point guard. The strategy worked, as Brooklyn turned the ball over at half court and then Irving traveled with the shot clock expiring with just under a minute left in the game. That turned out to be the last stand of him.
Fortunately, the Nets did enough to hold on. Kyrie Irving made a pair of free throws when fouled by Cedi Osman on the sideline, and Claxton hit Garland’s layup to seal the game.
No curry, no harris, no problem
Seth Curry (43.71%) and Joe Harris (43.51%) are the two most accurate 3-point shooters right now. They also rank fourth and fifth all-time. Both were out Monday night in Cleveland, Curry with a non-COVID illness and Harris with ongoing knee pain that will keep him out at least until Wednesday night’s game with the Hawks.
Still, even with their sharpshooters, Brooklyn shot 60% (18-of-30) from beyond the arc, led by Kyrie Irving (7-of-11), Kevin Durant (5-of-8), Yuta Watanabe and Royce O. ‘Neale. (both 2 of 3) and TJ Warren (2 of 4). In all, of the six players who took a shot from deep for Cleveland, five were more than 50% accurate. Only Edmond Sumner (0 of 1) did not reach the threshold. Nic Claxton, Ben Simmons and Patty Mills did not put any.
The Nets are now 12-0 when shooting at least 40% from three.
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we warn you preseason. There was a good chance that TJ Warren would become the steal of the offseason. The prediction is coming true.
As mentioned above, Warren was just outstanding off the bench. His 21 points in 27 minutes demonstrated everything that makes him such a lethal scorer. He is adept from midrange, capable of shooting short-range floaters and can spread the floor open, going 2-for-4 from deep against the Cavaliers. Plus, he’s a super-crafty cutter, making him the perfect complement to the star power of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who constantly draw an onslaught of double teams.
Perhaps most of all, Warren just acquired that hard-to-learn gene that can’t be taught. That’s why he started at Indiana his last full season of play (before missing two full years with a pair of foot surgeries). They don’t tell himbubble god‘ Not at all.
Seriously, his 6-10 foot touch is just ridiculous. Warren shot a very solid 44.6% from 3-10 feet over the course of his career, nailing shots like this nice two-point shot on a regular basis. He’s a bit of a throwback player in that regard, a short-midrange mercenary, which makes him the perfect complement next to the all-star talent and 3-point shooting scattered across Brooklyn’s roster.
Many thought Sean Marks would never beat the bare-bones signing of Jeff Green, who quickly became an integral role player in Brooklyn’s lethal little unit alongside James Harden, Irving and Durant.
Warren, who also signed for the veteran minimum this offseason, might make them think twice.
It’s all Kevin Durant tonight!
Durant hit a 21-foot jump shot at the 5:07 mark of the second quarter. But this wasn’t just any old long-two. He pushed him up to 15th on the all-time scoring list, surpassing Tim Duncan’s 26,496 career total points. Next up is Dominique Wilkins with 26,668 total points.
This season, Durant has passed Alex English, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, John Havlicek, Paul Pierce and now Tim Duncan on the all-time scoring list in just 34 total games. Next up: Dominique Wilkins (26,668), who ironically was the only player before KD to fully recover from an Achilles tendon injury. With any luck, Durant could be as high as No. 10 this season.
“Definitely,” Durant said when asked about appreciating the milestones. “You want to show up every day, but at some point you have to celebrate some little victories, like a win. [over the Cavaliers]. It’s great to celebrate that with your team.
“So my career, being able to meet an all-time great legend, someone who changed and changed the game is something that I will call my parents tonight and talk about and remember how we got here. So it’s cool to do things like that and I want to celebrate those little things, but you know, keep going. I know I have more to do.”
Durant also passed Kobe Bryant on the all-time 3-point shot list. With 1,829 career 3-pointers for him, KD now sits at 21st on the list. Next up is Chauncey Billups, who made 1,830 3-pointers over the course of his NBA career.
Noise level drops as gameplay improves
Kevin Durant was asked how the “noise” level has gone down as the Nets have gone on to win. And by “noise” we mean the wave of controversy that plagued the team from last June 30 when KD requested a trade to November 20 when Kyrie returned from an eight-game suspension for posting an anti-Semitic video.
“To be honest, I think we’ve always been concerned about the ball,” Durant told the media. “No disrespect to what you (the media) do, I just think the outside noise from the media and fans makes it seem like we don’t care about the game or aren’t focused on the task at hand. We have always been like this. It’s the fact that you don’t have much to talk about outside of the game, so it doesn’t add to the discussion around our team.”
As Spongebob would say…
The Nets head to Atlanta to play Trae Young, Dejounte Murray and the Hawks for the second of three straight road games. Coverage begins on the YES Network at 7:30 pm on Wednesday.
For a different perspective on tonight’s game, head over to fear of the swordour sister site of the Cavaliers.