KD Returns to the Bay as Nets Dominate Warriors

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Final: 02/13/2021

W 134 117

Photo via NBAonESPN/Twitter

The Warriors knew they would have to face Kevin Durant again one day at home, but they probably never imagined it would be like this

With Brooklyn’s offense humming, the Nets rode a balanced attack to a 134-117 win over Golden State on Saturday. Six Nets notched double figures as they improve to 16-12 on the season.

A 15-point halftime lead ballooned to as large as 28 in the second half as the Nets locked down on both ends of the floor. The Warriors out-scored Brooklyn 35-26 in the fourth quarter but were ultimately no match for Brooklyn’s offense. 

Brooklyn had a tepid start defensively but ended up settling down and holding Golden State to 48.9 % shooting and just 9-of-34 from three. The Nets also scored 18 points off 13 Golden State turnovers, turned it over just 13 times themselves and out-rebounded 51-45. 

Brooklyn’s small-ball lineup shined against the Warriors as Bruce Brown got the start at center with DeAndre Jordan out due to personal reasons. Brown was effective early for the Nets, connecting often with James Harden on cuts and staying active on the boards.

Saturday’s game was just the seventh time Brooklyn’s Big Three shared the court together, and they are just flat-out fun to watch. Durant remained aggressive despite his shot being off early, Harden recorded 16 (!) assists and Kyrie Irving took over in the fourth quarter with a team-high 23 points.

Harden was the head of Brooklyn’s efficient offense that pushed the pace and recorded a season-high 35 assists on 50 field goals. The Nets shot 53.8% from the field and 16-of-39 from three as the Warriors could not keep up.

Stephen Curry led the way for Golden State with 27 points but shot 2-of-9 from three. Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 17 points apiece. 

When the Nets play as they did on Saturday, they look practically unbeatable. As fans have grown to know, though, the team’s defensive effort is unpredictable.

The Warriors attacked the paint early against Brooklyn and finished with 58 points inside, but the Nets countered with 54 points in the paint of their own. The Nets’ defense held the Warriors back from three-point range, and that window was more than enough for Brooklyn to hold a comfortable lead throughout the second half while keeping down the offensive miscues. 

The ultimate test is, as always, consistency. The Nets will have a chance to continue to prove themselves defensively as the west coast trip continues on Monday against the Kings. 

Kyrie Irving

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The stats: 23 PTS, 10-17 FG, 2-5 3PT, 1-1 FT, 5 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO, 34 MIN

Kyrie is just ridiculous.

Kyrie went from a quiet first half to aggressive third and fourth quarters, breaking out the moves on his way to the rim. He was not the go-to man on offense but ended up as Brooklyn’s leading scorer.

Kyrie understood his role as the team put forward a balanced offensive attack. It was still good to see Kyrie be aggressive when he sees the opportunity to do so.

Kevin Durant

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The stats: 20 PTS, 8-19 FG, 1-6 3PT, 3-4 FT, 5 REB, 6 AST, 2 BLK, 4 TO, 33 MIN

KD was not perfect in his return to the Bay, but he did not have to be. 

Durant was aggressive early but settled down as he struggled from distance in his first game back. His impact was felt in other areas, particularly on defense. 

As scary as the Nets’ offense looked on Saturday, it can be even scarier when KD is on fire. With his legs back under him, a big game may be on the way. 

James Harden

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The stats: 23 PTS, 6-11 FG, 5-8 3PT, 2-2 FT, 8 REB, 16 AST, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 5 TO, 35 MIN

Watching James Harden orchestrate the offense is a thing of beauty.

We’ve been looking for Harden to find the perfect balance of being aggressive and incorporating teammates, and Saturday was exactly that. Harden put special focus on distributing the ball with 16 assists, and with that came five turnovers, but he made up for that with his five three-pointers. 

A near triple-double on a team-high 35 minutes. It may have been KD’s return on Saturday, but Harden was the star of the show.

Bruce Brown

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The stats: 18 PTS, 8-12 FG, 2-3 FT, 7 REB, 1 AST, 22 MIN

Bruce Brown is the key to the Nets’ small-ball success.

Brown benefited from Harden’s top-notch passing with many looks in the paint off cuts. Brown led the Nets in points early on as Brooklyn was trading punches with Golden State in the first quarter.

Acting as starting center, Brown also added four (!) offensive boards. Those are not always easy to come by for Brooklyn, and Brown is doing what has been asked of him and then some.

Joe Harris

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The stats: 15 PTS, 5-9 FG, 3-6 3PT, 2-2 FT, 4 REB, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 27 MIN

An open Joe Harris is a happy Joe Harris, and he was happy pretty often on Saturday. With the full Big Three in tow, Harris often got good looks from deep and cashed in on three.

Harris is the X-factor that gives Brooklyn the push it needs to be dominant. With two steals and a block on the defensive end, he is doing the intangibles to keep the Nets moving no matter the lineup.

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