Harden Helps Nets Pull Ahead in Sweep of Heat


Final: 01/25/2021

W 98 85

In a season where closing out games has been hit or miss, the Nets turned on the gas in a big way.

Two nights after holding off Miami in a narrow victory, Brooklyn turned a low-scoring effort into a confident 98-85 victory on Monday. James Harden came alive down the stretch, scoring 12 fourth-quarter points and 20 overall. 

The Nets had their work cut out for them after it became clear early that shots were not falling across the board. The Heat got off to a quick 8-0 lead as Brooklyn scored just 15 first-quarter points. 

Brooklyn got off to a 0-of-11 start from deep, which was finally halted by Joe Harris in the second quarter. The team had just two three-pointers by halftime and five after three quarters. 

Luckily for the Nets, the Heat had an off-night offensively as well. Though Bam Adebayo tallied 26 points, Miami shot 36.9% from the field as the team continues to be without Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley, among others. 

With the game up for the taking midway through the fourth quarter, Harden emerged as the one to step up offensively. 

The Nets have been waiting for Harden to take over with scoring over distributing. Harden took the game into his own hands, scoring 10 points in the last five minutes and leading Brooklyn’s 15-0 run that gave the team a 16-point lead down the stretch. 

What allowed the Nets to stay in the game despite the shooting struggles were late defensive stops and limiting giveaways. Brooklyn turned the ball over just seven times on the night and instead took advantage of Miami’s mistakes, scoring 18 points off the Heat’s 12 turnovers. 

The Nets came together as a team on a night where everyone struggled from the field, as six players notched double figures in scoring. On the other end, Brooklyn out-rebounded Miami 58-54 and out-scored them 28-14 in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.

The team’s offensive struggles were seen as ball movement often became stagnant and finishes at the rim fell off as Brooklyn shot 40% from the field. Six fourth-quarter three-pointers helped lift the team’s shooting from deep to 11-of-38 on the night. 

Though it was not pretty, Monday’s result still represents progress for Brooklyn. Harden showed he was able to step up offensively after a few unselfish performances and the Nets notched back-to-back victories after dropping two to the Cavaliers

The gameplan clicked for Brooklyn down the stretch, and that closeout chemistry will be tested coming up on a three-game road trip. The next step is to extend that success into a full-game effort. 

James Harden


The stats: 20 PTS, 7-10 FG, 3-5 3PT, 3-5 FT, 4 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 34 MIN

James Harden did not attempt many shots, but boy did he make them count. 

Harden came to the rescue on Monday in a way the Nets badly needed. After shooting just 3-for-4 from the field in the first three quarters, Harden started to heat up in the fourth and scored 10 points in the last five minutes to help Brooklyn pull away.

It is not bad for Harden to look for his teammates first, and that is part of the process in figuring out roles, but there have been opportunities for him to be more aggressive. That time came on Monday, and Harden took advantage — showing again how spoiled Brooklyn is with having three players that can close games out. 

Kevin Durant


The stats: 20 PTS, 6-21 FG, 3-12 3PT, 5-6 FT, 13 REB, 5 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 1 TO, 38 MIN

A poor shooting night was bound to come for Kevin Durant after multiple 30-point performances in recent weeks.

After scoring just six points at halftime, KD finally was able to get some to fall down in the second half but was not able to fully take over the game as Harden did. KD did come up with some timely three-pointers down the stretch, though he shot 3-of-12 from distance on the night.

KD went through patches where shots just would not fall, but he still impacts the game in other ways, tallying 13 rebounds and five assists. It is hard to imagine that KD will shoot below 30% in a second straight game when the Nets face the Hawks on Wednesday — he will most definitely bounce back. 

Kyrie Irving


The stats: 16 PTS, 6-17 FG, 1-4 3PT, 3-3 FT, 8 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO, 40 MIN

When the shot is not there, the hustle always is.

Kyrie Irving scored just seven points in the second half, but he — like KD — impacted the game in different ways. He remained aggressive on defense as the Nets pulled away, applying pressure and helping to secure rebounds down the stretch.

Irving was crafty when he needed to be, but he also recognized Harden was the man to close the game out. The two are still working on balancing ball-handling duties, and Kyrie found other ways to contribute despite the team’s poor shooting across the board.

Joe Harris


The stats: 12 PTS, 4-9 FG, 3-8 3PT, 1-1 FT, 2 REB, 3 AST, 1 TO, 36 MIN

Joe Harris did not bring out his flamethrower side as he did on Saturday, but he was still reliable when the Nets needed him to be.

Harris reminded everyone that he is not just a three-point shooter, taking the opportunity to drive to the rim and draw an and-one. Joe leads the league in catch-and-shoot three-point percentage, but Nets fans know he can do much more.

Joe again found himself open on the perimeter and cashed in for three opportunities, including the Nets’ first three-pointer of the game in the second quarter. Joe’s three-pointer streak continues, and he remained aggressive despite a slow offensive start.

DeAndre Jordan


The stats: 11 PTS, 5-7 FG, 1-1 FT, 6 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 0 TO, 20 MIN

The Nets found success in the closing lineup by swapping DeAndre for Jeff Green, but DJ was a large reason why the Nets kept the game close at halftime.

While the Nets struggled to score, they found some success by feeding DJ inside. DeAndre tied Kyrie for the most first-half points with nine as the Nets trailed by four at halftime.

He may not have been part of the closeout success, but DeAndre still provided momentum early — and he did not turn the ball over. That is a win in itself.