Irving Leads Shorthanded Nets to Gritty Team Win Over Pelicans

B+

Final: 04/20/2021

W 134 129

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Screenshot via YES

The Nets got the most out of a small but mighty lineup in a gritty 134-129 victory over the Pelicans on Tuesday night.

Brooklyn entered the contest with just nine active players due to injuries and health and safety protocols. Kyrie Irving led the field with 32 points as seven Nets scored in double figures in the big-time team effort.

After he missed three shots at the end of Sunday’s loss to the Heat, Irving came up clutch with back-to-back buckets and four free throws to seal the victory for Brooklyn. He remained aggressive and delivered with 15 points in the fourth quarter and even forced a late decisive turnover against Zion Williamson.

The game was not without its challenges as the Nets lacked size against a dominant interior Pelicans team. Bruce Brown came up big with a double-double as Brooklyn matched New Orleans inside and out-rebounded them 50-45, though the Pelicans recorded a narrow 60-58 edge in points in the paint. 

The Nets fell behind early thanks to some sloppy play and a 16-0 Pelicans run that gave New Orleans a 13-point lead, their highest of the night. Williamson had success in the paint as he willed his way to 33 points and seven rebounds while shooting 73.7%. 

Brooklyn answered with its own early run, though, and ended up out-scoring the Pelicans 108-100 through the final three quarters, including 41 fourth-quarter points. The Nets led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter thanks to a three-point barrage and finished 14-of-37 from distance on the night.

The Nets were in control for spurts in the fourth quarter, but the final minute was a lengthy one as it was extended by multiple fouls and free throws. Still, Irving acted as Brooklyn’s closer as the Pelicans were forced to fight their way back at the free-throw line, and the Nets made 22 of their 28 free-throw attempts to stay afloat. 

The Pelicans shot 56% on the night while scoring 23 points off the Nets’ 13 turnovers. Brooklyn’s offensive balance was on display as the team shot 55.1% on the night, highlighted by 30 assists on 49 made field goals and 37 points from the bench. 

Brooklyn announced on Tuesday that James Harden is out indefinitely as he suffered a setback in his hamstring strain recovery, while Kevin Durant is day-to-day with his thigh contusion. Every day has been a new adventure for the Nets, so securing the victory against the Pelicans with a shorthanded squad is a step forward in a time where much is uncertain. The Brooklyn grit was alive and well. 

Next up: A quick turnaround with a meeting against the Raptors on Wednesday.

Kyrie Irving

A

The stats: 32 PTS, 12-19 FG, 3-7 3PT, 5-6 FT, 2 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 5 TO, 38 MIN

Kyrie was on a mission in the fourth quarter.

Kyrie had his hands all over Brooklyn’s closing moments as he came up big on both sides of the court. Kyrie found his spots for timely back-to-back buckets while he also drained his free throws and, perhaps most impactfully, forced a turnover to take away the Pelicans’ final possession.

Kyrie struggled against the Heat on Sunday, but he delivered the closing effort the Nets needed. A 15-point fourth quarter from Kyrie was invaluable as he got his three-point shot to go down and found ways to seal the deal for his team. 

Joe Harris

A-

The stats: 24 PTS, 10-16 FG, 3-6 3PT, 1-2 FT, 2 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 32 MIN

Good things happen when Joe scores 20+ points.

On a night the Nets largely struggled from distance, Joe was able to knock down a pair of threes to help Brooklyn take its first lead of the game in the third quarter. He also continued to drive to the rim when the situation was right.

Joe was a big momentum booster, and the Nets needed a big night from him if they were going to have a shot to win with just nine active players. Brooklyn is now 11-1 when Joe scores at least 20 points, and he will be looked to more as long as KD and Harden both remain out. 

Landry Shamet

A-

The stats: 18 PTS, 7-12 FG, 3-7 3PT, 1-1 FT, 1 REB, 8 AST, 2 TO, 33 MIN

Landry Shamet continues to set career highs.

One game after scoring a career-high 30 points against the Heat, Shamet dished a career-best eight assists in Brooklyn’s winning effort against the Pelicans. Not to mention he kept up his production from beyond the arc once again and shot 58.3% overall.

Whether starting or coming off the bench, Shamet is bringing it. He has arguably been Brooklyn’s most reliable player as of late, and it could not be coming at a better time. 

Blake Griffin

B+

The stats: 16 PTS, 6-13 FG, 1-5 3PT, 3-3 FT, 8 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 28 MIN

Blake Griffin continues to do the little things, and they’re adding up to wins.

Whether it’s taking (another) charge against Zion or diving for a loose ball, Griffin is leaving it all in his minutes on the court. He particularly came up big on the boards against a big Pelicans team, grabbing a team-high four offensive rebounds.

Griffin could not find his shot from distance, but he made his presence known in other areas while nearly registering a double-double. He led an important three-man bench contribution in his second-highest-scoring game as a Net. 

Jeff Green

B

The stats: 15 PTS, 5-14 FG, 1-6 3PT, 4-4 FT, 9 REB, 6 AST, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 33 MIN

Can we talk about this dunk for a second?

Now that we watched that monster jam, we can move onto Jeff Green’s overall performance. Though his shot was off, he contributed in a bit of everything else and was on track to a triple-double.

Green and Bruce Brown were both key defensively and combined for 20 rebounds on the night. Green remained a presence on the boards and found ways to get his teammates involved, making up for his off night from the field. 

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