Nets Outlast Wizards as Griffin Makes Brooklyn Debut

B+

Final: 03/21/2021

W 113 106

Screenshot via Twitter

The Nets reigned supreme in a battle of the backcourts on Sunday.

Though Brooklyn trailed by as many as 14 points early, the Nets rallied for a 113-106 home victory against the Wizards. James Harden and Kyrie Irving combined for 54 points as Brooklyn finally got an elusive win against Washington. 

The Wizards have played Brooklyn closely this season, and the same was true on Sunday as they hung around until the end. Though the Nets were largely in control throughout the latter three quarters, they allowed Washington to stay within single digits in the final minutes.

The Nets struggled to close out as they missed shots similarly to Friday, but they came up with stops and got timely buckets from Irving and Nic Claxton as they finished the game on a 10-4 run. It was another grind-out finish in finding different ways to win down the stretch. 

Brooklyn found themselves playing catchup early as the Wizards got off to a quick start with 20 points scored in the first five minutes. That did not last long, though, as James Harden led the early offensive comeback in a 38-point second quarter. 

The bench provided a great boost for Brooklyn, instantly impacting the momentum as Claxton and Bruce Brown got to work. Claxton especially came up big in the closing minutes as he drew two and-one plays and put Brooklyn up five with 30 seconds remaining. 

Another difference-maker off the bench was Blake Griffin, who made his Nets debut against Washington. He started his night with a block on his first play, drew a charge and even put down his first dunk in a game since December 2019 as his lone points on the night.

The Nets had another tough shooting night with a 48.9% performance from the field and 9-of-29 from three. They made up for that by scoring 27 points off the Wizards’ 19 turnovers while giving the ball away just seven times themselves. 

Washington was led by Russell Westbrook’s triple-double while Rui Hachimora and Alex Len had 20 points each. Bradley Beal was largely held quiet with 17 points on 40% shooting. 

One thing to watch going forward: Landry Shamet was ruled out of the game after spraining his ankle and will have further imaging done on Monday. The Nets hit the road next for a trip to Portland on Tuesday. 

Brooklyn has had close games as of late, but they are finding ways to get stops and buckets down the stretch. They bounced back from their loss to the Magic on Friday and go forward on what may be a tough road trip to Portland and Utah. 

Kyrie Irving

A-

The stats: 28 PTS, 10-25 FG, 1-6 3PT, 7-7 FT, 7 REB, 6 AST, 3 STL, 1 TO, 35 MIN

When in a pinch down the stretch, Kyrie can almost always be counted on.

Kyrie played well alongside Claxton in the closing minutes as the Nets outlasted the Wizards with a 10-4 run. He struggled with his shot from distance, but of course made his impact at the rim and from mid-range.

Kyrie was also a key figure on defense as he tallied three steals on the night. It was not his best shooting performance but his fingerprints were everywhere.  

James Harden

A-

The stats: 26 PTS, 10-23 FG, 3-9 3PT, 3-4 FT, 5 REB, 8 AST, 3 STL, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 39 MIN

James Harden was the offensive motor that got the Nets moving in the second quarter.

Harden had a bit of an injury scare at the end of the first quarter after being hit in the head, but he was right back in the game to start the second half. He said after the game that he will be fine, and he had a strong performance to prove it.

Harden is starting to get his three-point groove back and came up defensively with three steals and a block. The Beard is working great with Claxton, DJ and now Griffin, and his unselfish play is what is keeping the Nets going. 

Nicolas Claxton

A

The stats: 16 PTS, 7-10 FG, 2-4 FT, 3 REB, 1 STL, 3 BLK, 2 TO, 26 MIN

Like a fine wine, Nic Claxton is getting better with time.

Claxton once again earned minutes in the closing lineup and showed his worth with two and-one plays that helped Brooklyn pull ahead. His agility was on display as he ran the court with ease while also protecting the paint. 

The Wizards did score 60 points in the paint, so there is still progress to be made, but Claxton held his own against the Wizards’ top talent. It is fun to see him earn his spot in the closing lineup and provide such an impactful boost each game. 

DeAndre Jordan

B

The stats: 12 PTS, 6-6 FG, 0-1 FT, 5 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 17 MIN

Nets fans may have their gripes about DeAndre, but he is providing much-needed scoring at a time where Jeff Green is falling short on the offensive end.

He struggled out of the gate as the Wizards went on their run but adjusted for a perfect night from the floor. He can bring more defensively but worked well with Harden and added three offensive boards.

DeAndre may be losing minutes going forward with Griffin in the lineup, but 12 points in 17 minutes are not something to pass over. The Nets needed all of those, and he can still play a role in certain game situations. 

Blake Griffin

B+

The stats: 2 PTS, 1-2 FG, 2 REB, 1 BLK, 15 MIN

A dunk, block and drawn charge — it was a pretty good start for Blake in Brooklyn.

Griffin got his feet under him in his first playing time in over a month and provided a great boost of energy when he entered in the first quarter. He played well alongside Claxton as the duo played off each other and provided size against Washington.

Griffin’s minutes were limited, but early signs show he can have a meaningful contribution to this Nets rotation. His minutes may change once KD is back, but Griffin looks fresh — and his dunk proved it. 

News from Around NYC