Brooklyn, NY–James Harden is feeling real comfy in his new digs and home in Brookyln.
Kevin Durant and Harden each scored 20 points despite three so-so quarters, the Nets broke away with a run in the fourth quarter to beat the Miami Heat 98-85 on Monday night.
”I think our defense held tight the whole game,” Durant said. ”Once we were able to start making some shots there in the fourth, we were able to pull away. But our defense won us this game for sure.”
Harden had only 10 points through three quarters, then went to score 10 more in the 18-2 run that turned a tie game into a 96-80 lead. He struggled through the entire game until he changed his mindset in the fourth.
In the second quarter, the Heat found a little rhythm and was able to shred the Nets interior defense. Miami took a 45-41 edge into halftime, going just 4 for 19 on threes but doubling the Nets’ made up after they went 2 for 17 from the floor.
”Just being aggressive,” he said. ”I think I wasn’t very aggressive throughout the course of the game.”
Durant shot a dismal 4 for 17 from the floor through three, then hit two treys in the fourth, the latter breaking a 78-all tie and sparking the big run.
The Nets, who went into the game averaging 120.3 points, struggled to find any rhythm offensively early in the game.
Bam Adebayo scored 26 points, 10 rebounds, and dished out five assists in a strong follow-up to his career-high 41 points on Saturday. But outside of Goran Dragic’s 21 points, there was little else for a short-handed Miami team without super star Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley because of health and safety protocols. Tyler Herro, Maurice Harkless, and Meyers Leonard are injured.
KYRIE & KOBE
Irving arrived at the arena wearing a No. 8 Kobe Bryant Lakers jersey. In a video posted by the Nets, he pulled his jacket open for a full view of the jersey, saying: ”You know who I was rocking tonight. Come on, it’s obvious.”
Harden had just two baskets, both in the fourth, during Saturday’s game. He took only two shots in the first half of Monday night’s match-up before getting some real open looks in the fourth quarter.
”Would I like James to be more aggressive? Yes. Will he be more aggressive in time? I think so,” Nash said. ”I think once he gets more comfortable with his teammates, when he gets in better shape, when he’s adapted to this whole new environment, we’ll see an improved James scoring the ball.”
Durant finished with 20 points but came on late in the fourth quarter to seal the game for Brooklyn.
“I’m seeing some progress,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said after Monday’s loss. “That’s the discipline right now this season is to focus on our team, the process and not this result right now. Everybody is disappointed about the overall record, but you see improvement.”
Miami entered the fourth with a one-point advantage, but got tired down the stretch. Brooklyn (11-8) outscored Miami 28-14 in the fourth quarter.
The Heat led by as many as eight points in the game, and held the Nets’ offense to a season-low 41 first-half points on 34.9 percent shooting from the floor.
Center Bam Adebayo looked like the best player on a court at times which featured Durant, Harden, and Irving.
“I think this was a very productive road trip,” Spoelstra said. “I just like this group. I like the competitiveness. I like the way this group has responded on this road trip. I told the team, they’re like a bunch of Navy SEALs. You just drop them into the city regardless of what the circumstances are, our guys are going to go out there and do a job. But the most important thing is I’m seeing our team get better.”
The Heat now return to Miami to begin a six-game homestand on Wednesday against the Denver Nuggets.
“Like coach said, I see us trending in the right direction,” Adebayo said. “We’re just down bodies, man. … For six straight, we gotta get those at home. We’re at the bottom of the East right now. It doesn’t look right being down there. It’s on us to fix that.”
Heat: Host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday to start a six-game homestand.
Nets: Open a three-game road trip Wednesday at Atlanta.