Harden Gets 12th Triple-Double as Nets Escape with Victory Over T-Wolves

C+

Final: 03/29/2021

W 112 โ€“ 107

What started as a high-heat effort quickly reduced to a simmer for the Nets, but luckily for them, the chef is on their side. 

James Harden came alive for a 38-point triple-double to lead Brooklyn to a 112-107 victory over the Timberwolves at home on Monday. Kyrie Irving marked his return with 27 points and seven rebounds.

It seemed as if the Nets would put away the Timberwolves, who entered with the league’s worst record, from the start. Irving was nearly unstoppable with 16 first-quarter points as Brooklyn built as large as a 17-point lead.

The Nets were solid on defense in the first quarter while holding the Timberwolves to 35% shooting, but Minnesota’s aggression allowed them to chip away at the Nets’ lead through the final three quarters. The Timberwolves feasted on second-chance opportunities thanks to a 17-7 advantage on the offensive boards.

The Timberwolves came within one point of Brooklyn with under a minute to play after the Nets led by 10 just over a minute earlier, but the Nets relied on Harden while stepping up their defense in the final possessions. The Beard scored 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets held on once again.

The Nets have had difficulty closing games, and after the final buzzer, Harden said that he needs to do a better job of taking care of the ball. The Nets recorded 31 assists on 40 field goals but got increasingly sloppy with the ball throughout the game, turning it over nine times in the second half after giving it away just five times in the first half.

Brooklyn won the battle in the paint 52-46 while also scoring 21 points off Minnesota’s 15 turnovers.

The Nets have had issues in playing down to competition this season, including Friday’s game against the Pistons, and Monday’s performance was another example of that. The Timberwolves played with a purpose while the Nets seemed to enter cruise control after the first quarter, unable to keep up — or build on — leads.

Karl-Anthony Towns led the way for the Timberwolves with 31 points and 12 rebounds while Anthony Edwards added 23 points and 10 rebounds. Minnesota shot just 38.8% from the field compared to Brooklyn’s 47.1% but made four more three-pointers than the Nets (14). 

The Nets received a boost from Irving’s return, but they still had a difficult time putting away a team below .500. The Timberwolves were within one possession of the Nets up until the last eight seconds, the latest example of what Steve Nash calls a “rough patch” for this team in putting in a full effort and closing out games. 

Nevertheless, Brooklyn escapes victorious. A meeting with another team below .500, the Rockets, awaits on Wednesday. 

James Harden

A

The stats: 38 PTS, 11-25 FG, 4-8 3PT, 12-13 FT, 11 REB, 13 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 6 TO, 40 MIN

On a night where James Harden put up a 38-point triple-double, he still thinks he has to do better.

Harden was referencing his late-game execution, as he turned the ball over four times in the fourth quarter. Then again, he also scored 13 points in the fourth to keep the Nets alive.

Kudos to Harden for taking the brunt of the blame, but without him, this would have been a loss. With the effort, he tied Jason Kidd for the most single-season triple-doubles in Nets history with 12. 

Harden will likely take down most — if not all — of Brooklyn’s scoring records in due time. 

Kyrie Irving

A-

The stats: 27 PTS, 11-22 FG, 2-8 3PT, 3-3 FT, 7 REB, 3 AST, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 33 MIN

Kyrie looked spry from the jump after taking a week off for personal reasons.

Kyrie dropped 19 points in the first half on 8-12 shooting to help the Nets build as large as a 17-point lead. He then cooled off a bit in the second half as Harden took over.

The Nets could have benefitted from a few more three-pointers by Kyrie, but Irving looked tired late — which is to be expected after a bit of time away. Kyrie stayed involved on defense with three steals and a block and was a welcomed addition back in the lineup. 

Jeff Green

B+

The stats: 10 PTS, 4-6 FG, 2-2 FT, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 2 TO, 21 MIN

Jeff Green helped lead what was a productive night from Brooklyn’s bench unit.

Uncle Jeff continued to attack the basket while protecting the paint on the other end with two blocks. He did turn the ball over twice, which helped feed some life back into the Timberwolves.

Blake Griffin also had a solid game off the bench despite getting into early foul trouble, recording five points, six rebounds and five assists in 19 minutes. The duo has worked well so far off the bench to keep up the Nets’ advantage in the paint. 

DeAndre Jordan

B-

The stats: 10 PTS, 5-6 FG, 2 REB, 1 AST, 1 TO, 12 MIN

Ten points in 12 minutes for DJ.

DeAndre helped Brooklyn get off to its hot start with eight points in the first six minutes. Harden was looking for him early and the connection was working.

His minutes took a bit of a dip once again, but he was productive offensively in his limited time. He leaves something to be desired in a hunger to grab rebounds at times, and the Nets could have used more of that as Minnesota dominated the offensive boards. 

Bruce Brown

B

The stats: 10 PTS, 3-4 FG, 4-4 FT, 5 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO, 29 MIN

Despite a team-worst minus-12, Brown had one of his best games in a while.

Bruce did a bit of everything, even flashing his passing ability to Harden on the perimeter in the fourth quarter. He also stayed engaged on the boards, grabbing two on the offensive end.

Brown’s impact does not always show in the stat sheet, but he does a lot to help Harden operate in the way he does. It was good to see Brown so aggressive in making plays on both ends of the court and providing a balanced effort.