Nets earn hard-fought victory, outlast Portland 128-123

Nets
Brooklyn Nets guard Seth Curry (30) shoots the ball as Portland Trail Blazers guard Josh Hart (11) defends during the second half at Barclays Center.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Kyrie Irving-less Nets matched up against the visiting Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. Both teams went into the game with an extended list of injuries, however, Seth Curry returned to the Nets’ rotation after a three-game absence. Portland was without Damian Lillard (core muscle), Anfernee Simons (patellar tendinopathy), Jusuf Nurkic (left foot; plantar fasciitis), Eric Bledsoe (left Achilles), Joe Ingles (left knee), Nassir Little (left shoulder), and Didi Louzada (left knee).

Brooklyn missed the services of Kyrie Irving (COVID-19 regulations), Ben Simmons (reconditioning/back soreness), Joe Harris (left ankle), LaMarcus Aldridge (right hip impingement), and David Duke Jr. (G League assignment). Despite the absences, Brooklyn battled to win 128-123 behind a highly-efficient 38 points from Kevin Durant.

Notable Numbers:

Brooklyn: 57% FG, 10/25 from three, 28/33 FT

  • Kevin Durant 38 points (11/15 FG, 14/15 FT, 2/3 3P), 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 8 turnovers in 37 minutes 32 seconds
  • Seth Curry 27 points (9/14 FG, 2/2 FT, 7/11 3P), 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 37 minutes 49 seconds
  • Andre Drummond 17 points (6/10 FG, 5/6 FT) and 9 rebounds (6 offensive) in 23 minutes 28 seconds
  • Goran Dragic 9 points (3/7 FG, 2/2 FT, 1/3 3P), 10 assists, and 3 steals in 36 minutes 27 seconds

Portland: 50% FG, 13/34 from three, 14/24 FT

  • Ben McLemore 17 points (5/13 FG, 2/2 FT, 5/12 3P), 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in 24 minutes 56 seconds
  • Josh Hart 25 points (9/18 FG, 4/5 FT, 3/8 3P), 5 rebounds, and 7 assists in 39 minutes 45 seconds
  • Drew Eubanks 18 points (8/10 FG, 2/2 FT), 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in 26 minutes 42 seconds
  • Brandon Williams 24 points (10/19 FG, 1/3 FT, 3/7 3P), 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals in 37 minutes 17 seconds

Game Recap:

Curry was quickly welcomed back into the lineup by converting on his first three attempts from deep in the early minutes of the game. However, the Trail Blazers closed the back-and-forth quarter on a brief 7-0 run. As a result, the Nets outscored Portland 34-33 through twelve minutes behind 13 points from Kevin Durant. A stepback three from undrafted rookie Brandon Williams 4.5 minutes into the second stanza forced a Steve Nash timeout as Portland took a 48-43 lead.

Porous defense and uninspired offense from Brooklyn caused the Chauncey Billups-led Blazers to gain spirited confidence throughout the first half. A Ben McLemore three at the halftime horn pushed the Nets’ deficit to 75-62, as the Nets were outscored 42-28 in the second quarter. McLemore led Portland’s scoring at the break, as the shooter scored 15 points on 5/9 shooting from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Durant, Curry, and Andre Drummond combined for 49 of the Nets’ 62 first-half points. Durant dropped in 22 points (7/9 FG, 8/9 FT) as Curry added 14 points (5/6 FG, 4/5 3P) and Drummond contributed 13 points (5/8 FG, 3/4 FT).

Surprisingly, Portland managed to maintain a double-digit lead for much of the early third quarter. Following an aggressive interaction between Goran Dragic and CJ Elleby, the Nets were able to cut the lead to three as Durant eclipsed the 30-point mark with about five minutes remaining in the third. Moments later, a triple from Durant gave the Nets a 96-94 lead, their first lead since early in the second quarter. Ultimately, Brooklyn outscored the Blazers 39-26 in the frame. As a result, the teams were tied at 101 at the conclusion of the third period.

With over ten minutes remaining in the fourth, Curry and Bruce Brown had four fouls, while Portland’s Kris Dunn had five. This did not deter Curry from firing from deep, as he knocked down his sixth triple of the night to give the Nets an extended lead early in the fourth. Portland opened up the final frame shooting 2/11 from the field. In comparison, Brooklyn shot 5/11 from the field in that span. As a result, the Nets took an eight-point lead entering the last five minutes of regulation.

Brown was the primary source of Brooklyn’s energy late in the fourth. After Portland cut their deficit to one possession, a putback tip-in by Nic Claxton with 21 seconds remaining sealed the hard-fought win. Durant’s first points in the fourth quarter came with 12.3 seconds remaining. Following a series of free throws, Brooklyn prevailed by outscoring Portland 26-22 in the final frame.

Nets’ Immediate Future:

The 37-34 Nets will be back in action at home on Monday, March 21st at 7:30 EST against the Utah Jazz. The game can be followed on YES and NBATV along with 101.9 FM/660 AM. For additional Nets coverage, visit TheBrooklynGame.com!

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