Brown, Nets Pull Away in Fourth for Seventh Straight Win

B+

Final: 02/23/2021

W 127 – 118

Brooklyn’s defense still needs work, but it clicked when it mattered most. 

The Nets held the Kings to 22 fourth-quarter points to pull away for a 127-118 victory on Tuesday, extending the team’s winning streak to seven. 300 fans were in attendance at Barclays Center as the Nets returned from their 5-0 road trip.

The Nets have Bruce Brown to thank as the difference-maker on the night. Brown drained two three-pointers in the fourth quarter on the way to his career-high 29-point night that helped Brooklyn pull away down the stretch. 

Reflecting past struggles, Brooklyn had difficulty in getting defensive stops as six Kings reached double figures in scoring and threatened to overtake momentum in the fourth quarter. Brooklyn started out the night with a fiery offense and 14-point lead in the first quarter while shooting 71.4% but went on to be out-scored by the Kings 68-56 over the next two quarters. 

The Nets went deep into their bench as Kevin Durant was again ruled out due to his hamstring strain. Nic Claxton and Iman Shumpert both made their season debuts while Andre Roberson got extended minutes.

Shumpert, Roberson and Noah Vonleh were all waived after Tuesday’s game, but Shumpert and Roberson are expected to sign 10-day contracts with Brooklyn on Friday, per The Athletic‘s Shams Charania. The Nets are also planning to sign Tyler Cook to a 10-day contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski

No matter the situation, Brooklyn never seems to be out of a game thanks to the steadying hand of James Harden, who posted his sixth triple-double as a Net. He and Joe Harris combined for 10 of the team’s 17 three-pointers as the team shot 49.4% on the night. 

The Kings shot 15-of-31 from three and held a 54-48 advantage in points in the paint. Tyrese Haliburton had an especially big game for Sacramento with 23 points and nine assists off the bench while De’Aron Fox led the way with 27 points and eight assists.

The takeaways for Brooklyn? Well, there is still room for improvement (and consistency) on defense. But the team has to be encouraged by the energy it received from its extended bench contributions while limiting turnovers to just eight.

Brooklyn’s confidence is tangible. With Durant still absent, the team has shown all-around chemistry along with poise through close contests.

Winning is fun, and the Nets are doing an awful lot of it. The defense still needs work, but Brooklyn closed out when necessary in the fourth quarter on a 14-1 run. 

Next up: The Magic. 

Bruce Brown

A+

The stats: 29 PTS, 11-13 FG, 2-3 3PT, 5-5 FT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 25 MIN

BB for MVP! 

Bruce brought energy out of the gate with eight quick points and closed out the night with 13 points in the fourth quarter. He has benefitted from looks in the paint and even brought some three-pointers to seal the deal for Brooklyn.

Bruce has truly emerged as a pivotal piece for the Nets. Beyond his defense and energy, Bruce is showing his comfort as an offensive threat, and watching him come into his own this season has been a treat to watch.

James Harden

A

The stats: 29 PTS, 9-22 FG, 5-10 3PT, 6-9 FT, 11 REB, 14 AST, 1 STL, 4 TO, 41 MIN

James Harden is Brooklyn’s safety blanket. He provides a level of comfort like no one else can.

Harden dropped seven points and six assists in the first quarter alone and kept on attacking. His three-point shots were timely contributions for Brooklyn as the Kings threatened to overtake the lead on multiple occasions. 

The Beard benefits from his hot-shooting teammates as he racks up the assists, but his vision to find them open is the true beauty of it. Harden has played just 19 games with Brooklyn, but he is truly settling in as the team’s most impactful player. 

Kyrie Irving

B+

The stats: 21 PTS, 8-22 FG, 2-6 PT, 3-3 FT, 5 REB, 7 AST, 3 STL, 3 TO, 37 MIN

Can we just admire Kyrie’s team-leading four offensive rebounds?

Some of those came off his own misses, but second chances are critical — especially on nights when the team is not 100% on defense. He got the Nets off on the right foot with a quick 14 points and settled down from there.

Kyrie had a quiet latter half of the game, but he allowed Harden and Brown to shine. He still remains involved in other facets and was stepped up defensively with three steals on the night. 

Joe Harris

A-

The stats: 18 PTS, 6-10 FG, 5-9 3PT, 1-2 FT, 4 REB, 1 AST, 32 MIN

Joey Buckets. Mr. Reliable. He lives up to all the nicknames. 

Joe was not only a play-maker but a play-saver. At one point, Joe made a three-pointer off a late save to keep the ball in bounds. A potential turnover turned into a three-point play, just like that.

Joey Buckets has been near-automatic this season, and he brings his versatility at the hoop as well. Nets fans know what they are getting from Joe, and he often is even better than advertised this season. 

DeAndre Jordan

A-

The stats: 12 PTS, 4-5 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-6 FT, 8 REB, 4 BLK, 34 MIN

DJ continues to get better. 

DeAndre got the start at center and provided strong interior defense against Sacramento. Though the Kings had the edge on the interior in the first half, the Nets did a better job of quieting their impact in the paint in the second half. 

DJ even nearly got a three-pointer to go down at the end of the third quarter! That may not have went in, but DeAndre’s continued blocks, rebounds and touches at the rim are encouraging for Brooklyn going forward. 

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