Collin Sexton, Cavaliers Overwhelm Nets in Double-OT Defeat


Final: 01/20/2021

L 135 147

The debut of the Nets’ “Big Three” era shot out of a cannon and ended with some fireworks — from Collin Sexton, that is. 

A double-overtime thriller turned into a 147-135 loss for the Nets against the Cavaliers. Cleveland out-scored Brooklyn 20-8 in the final overtime period as it snapped the Nets’ four-game winning streak. 

The Cavaliers had the hot hand, plain and simple. Just when the Nets had seemed to have found their groove in overtime, they still could not get stops — and Sexton could not miss

Brooklyn had its chances. The Nets built as large as a five-point lead during the first overtime period but opted not to foul while up by three. Sexton made the Nets pay with a game-tying three-pointer, and Durant missed a turnaround jumper in the final seconds to force double OT. 

The Cavaliers built as large as a 14-point lead as they pulled away in the second overtime period with a scoring barrage. Brooklyn’s starters — who played nearly 19 minutes straight through the end of regulation and overtime — started to show fatigue as their shots came up short and Sexton went into overdrive with 20 straight points over both overtime periods. 

Even before OT, a hectic final minute of regulation nearly took away Brooklyn’s chance at victory. A 36-point fourth quarter allowed the Nets to tie the game at 113, but the team had missed opportunities that brought the game to overtime.

First, James Harden missed a shot with under a minute left. Then Kyrie Irving was called for an offensive foul against Sexton on a potential game-winning drive, which was overturned and eventually led to overtime.

This was an up-and-down game for Brooklyn. The Nets looked almost unstoppable to start the game by making their first 10 shots. The momentum quickly turned, though, as they missed their next 11 and Cleveland went on a 17-0 run.

Beyond a lack of defensive stops, turnovers hurt the Nets throughout the night. The Cavaliers took advantage of Brooklyn’s mistakes by scoring 21 points off the Nets’ 16 turnovers — seven of which came in the first quarter. Cleveland also took it to the Nets in the paint, out-scoring Brooklyn 64-48 inside.

The Cavaliers entered Wednesday night averaging 99.5 points per game, a mark they passed at the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Cleveland shot 51.4% on the night and 20-of-40 from three as five players recorded at least three three-pointers. 

Cleveland was also boosted by “revenge games” from Jarett Allen and Taurean Prince. In their Cavalier debuts, Allen recorded a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double in 31 minutes off the bench, while Prince had 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. 

Sexton led the way for Cleveland with 42 points, while Cedi Osman added 25. 

It is not expected for the Nets to figure out the formula for the Big Three right away — Steve Nash called it a “process” — but they were lacking energy, especially in a low-scoring first half. Irving, who returned after missing seven straight games, gave the team its biggest boost with 37 points in 48 minutes. Durant led the way with 38 points and 12 rebounds in 50 (!) minutes, while Harden notched a 21-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound triple-double.

The Nets shot 45.3% from the field but largely struggled from three, making 15-of-41 from distance. Even with Joe Harris’ move out of the starting lineup, the bench totaled just 10 points — with just a four-man secondary rotation of Harris, Reggie Perry, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Bruce Brown.

Familiar themes haunted the Nets in defensive pressure, turnovers and interior presence, and once Sexton got hot, it was too little too late. Brooklyn and the Big Three will have a chance to correct those errors as it faces Cleveland again on Friday.

Kevin Durant


The stats: 38 PTS, 12-25 FG, 3-9 3PT, 11-13 FT, 12 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 4 BLK, 2 TO, 50 MIN

Kevin Durant had a slow offensive start with 10 first-half points but turned it on late.

The Nets’ fourth-quarter run was largely led by Durant, who shared the majority of the team’s offensive looks with Irving. Durant also had a chance to win the game at the end of overtime but missed a tough turnaround jumper along the baseline.

KD just keeps pouring in the points with his third straight 30-point game, and he also came up big defensively with four blocks. What the Nets have to make sure of, though, is that a near triple-double from KD is not wasted in a loss. 

Kyrie Irving


The stats: 37 PTS, 15-28 FG, 3-8 3PT, 4-5 FT, 2 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 3 BLK, 4 TO, 48 MIN

There’s nothing like playing 48 minutes to welcome you back from an extended break.

Irving was one of Brooklyn’s lone sparks throughout the night, scoring 17 points in his first 17 minutes as his teammates struggled from the field in the first half. He then had an opportunity to win it at the end of regulation, but contact with Sexton resulted in a jump ball.

Irving found himself playing mainly off the ball in the first look at the Big Three, and that may change going forward. He did not seem to have trouble with the offensive load, but it will be interesting to see if Irving takes more of a play-making role in the future.

James Harden


The stats: 21 PTS, 6-14 FG, 3-6 3PT, 6-6 FT, 10 REB, 12 AST, 2 STL, 5 TO, 50 MIN

James Harden had a triple-double, but it still felt like he could have done more.

Harden came alive in the second half after scoring just two first-half points off free throws. Though he took more of a ball-handling role, it would have been good to see Harden be more aggressive offensively, especially while his teammates were struggling.

Add to it his five turnovers, and there were areas for Harden to improve on the night. It makes sense for Harden to want to allow his teammates to get hot first, particularly Irving, but the Nets could have used more of a score-first approach from Harden. That balance will likely be tweaked among the Big Three going forward.

Jeff Green


The stats: 16 PTS, 5-8 FG, 4-7 3PT, 2-2 FT, 7 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 45 MIN

Jeff Green came up big on multiple occasions, including what seemed like a potential game-clinching shot in the first overtime period.

Of course, Sexton answered that three-pointer to bring the game into double-OT, and the rest was history. Still, Green continues to add great value and much-needed accuracy from three — especially with Joe Harris having an off night.

DeAndre Jordan


The stats: 13 PTS, 6-7 FG, 1-1 FT, 4 REB, 2 BLK, 1 TO, 24 MIN

Double-digit scoring from DeAndre is great, but the Nets need more on the defensive side of the ball.

The game started as lob city for DeAndre, which was a lot of fun, but his impact largely cooled down thereafter. The Nets need more than four rebounds from their big man, no matter how many minutes logged.