Harden Notches Triple-Double in Houston Return, Nets Enter All-Star Break

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Final: 03/03/2021

W 132 114

Screenshot via ESPN

The Rockets had cut the Nets’ lead down to eight with under eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. James Harden scored six of Brooklyn’s next eight points in response. 

Who better to do it?

Warm welcome or not, Harden made sure to mark his return to Houston with a win. Brooklyn closed out the first half of their season with a 132-114 victory over the Rockets on Wednesday and stand at second in the East with a 24-13 record.

Though the Nets led by as many as 23 points in the first half, a shorthanded Rockets team refused to go away. Thanks to 69 combined points between John Wall and Victor Oladipo, Houston took advantage of Brooklyn’s lacking defense and made 18 three-pointers on the night.

The Nets were unable to fully pull put the Rockets away — before the final minutes — due to offensive sloppiness. The Rockets took advantage and scored 25 points off Brooklyn’s 14 turnovers two nights after the Nets turned the ball over just five times against the Spurs

Despite the turnovers, seven Nets recorded double digits in scoring on the night alongside 33 assists on 49 made field goals. The team shot 57.6% from the field and 17-of-35 from three.

Harden notched his eighth triple-double as a Net in his return to the Toyota Center. He enjoyed his connection with Nic Claxton once again as the young center had another big night off the bench. 

Claxton and DeAndre Jordan helped the Nets out-score the Rockets 58-30 in the paint and out-rebound 60-44. Meanwhile, Houston extended their losing streak to 13 heading into the All-Star break.

The Nets stand at No. 2 in the Eastern Conference standings a half-game back from No. 1 Philadelphia. Brooklyn’s 24-13 record is the third-best in franchise history at an All-Star break.

Now, the Nets get a well-deserved break as Harden and Kyrie Irving will play in the All-Star game on Sunday. They enter the break having won nine of their last 10 games with Harden and role players stepping up.

Anticipation for the second half of the season — and the eventual return of Kevin Durant — starts… now.  

James Harden

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The stats: 29 PTS, 10-15 FG, 4-8 3PT, 5-7 FT, 10 REB, 14 AST, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 8 TO, 41 MIN

James Harden nearly had a quadruple-double with turnovers in his return to Houston, but it was another impressive performance nonetheless.

After hearing a mix of cheers and boos in his return to Houston, Harden went on play in his regular dominant fashion. He especially ramped up his game in the second quarter when Claxton entered the game.

The turnovers could have hurt the Nets in a closer game, but he settled down as the game went on. It goes without saying, but Harden has been everything and more for the Nets, and he showed as much in what must have been a meaningful return to Houston.

Kyrie Irving

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The stats: 24 PTS, 9-21 FG, 4-9 3PT, 2-3 FT, 5 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO, 34 MIN

Kyrie has struggled with offensive consistency as of late, though it has not seemed to affect his point total.

Kyrie had his fair share of “how did he do that?” plays that remind Nets fans how spoiled they are with talent. He got off to a quick start and was on-point from three.

Still, if Kyrie is going to take 21 shots, the Nets needs him to make more than nine. The break should be some welcomed time off for Kyrie to come back fresh. 

Joe Harris

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The stats: 19 PTS, 7-9 FG, 4-5 3PT, 1-1 FT, 2 REB, 24 MIN

Joe Harris is back on target.

After a brief cold stretch the previous two games, Joe was back to his usual self. He was automatic again from distance and probably could have made a few more if he got some more looks.

We will miss Joe in the three-point contest, but we wish him good rest over the break. He will always be our three-point champ. 

Bruce Brown

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The stats: 17 PTS, 6-11 FG, 1-2 3PT, 4-6 FT, 8 REB, 7 AST, 28 MIN

Bruce Brown was on fire from the start at all points of the court.

From threes to dunks and everywhere in between, Brown has been a game-changer for Brooklyn. This time he inched closed to a triple-double with an impressive seven assists with zero turnovers.

Not to mention, Brown has been Brooklyn’s anchor on defense. It has been fun to watch him come into his own on the offensive end heading into the All-Star break. 

Nicolas Claxton

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The stats: 16 PTS, 7-8 FG, 2-4 FT, 8 REB, 1 AST, 16 MIN

If Nic Claxton continues to average a point per minute, the Nets will be very happy. 

Claxton came out attacking yet again in the second quarter one game after dropping a career-high 17 points. He had 12 points and five rebounds in his first seven minutes and went on to provide valuable minutes off the bench, including three offensive boards.

Claxton has already made a big impact and he is just getting started. Once Durant returns, Claxton’s role on the floor should become even more fun. 

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