The best roster net ever assembled, rolled into the best road trip ever.
Five up, five down and a perfect West Coast swing – capped by a win over the Clippers at the 112-108 Staples Center on Sunday.
Nets owner Joe Tsai – who owns a house just south of Tony La Jolla – was on hand to see his billions of built-in superingams for the first time. This led to the Nets’ winning run of six, but one of those coming on this success journey. The perfect 5-0 West Coast swing is the longest undefeated trip in team history.
Brooklyn ran into a 15-point third-quarter cushion before Kavya Leonard (29 points) left it at 108 with 28.6 seconds left. But DeAndre Jordan had a missed 3 by Kyrie Irving with 11 seconds remaining in regulation. Two seconds later James Harden – famous for his offense – made a game-saving play at the other end. Defending Leonard, the Clippers star was called for a push-back and offensive dishonesty.
Harden (37 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists) gave up both free throws with seven seconds left and put it in the ice. Kyrie Irving added 28 points and eight assists.
Steve Nash said, “Winning is always the best medicine for everything.” He said, ‘But more importantly, our team has come together, played well. We have improved in every game, we have learned something about ourselves; So it was very useful in many ways, not just in winning.
He said, we played some good teams, we got some good challenges and we responded. So just a little to see them together and what we are trying to do to grow for us, are making small improvements, this is what we ask. He said that on this trip, so it has been really positive. “
Positive does not cover it.
They went on the road and defeated the Warriors, Kings, Suns, Lakers and now Clippers, earning all of those wins but the first without an injured Kevin Durant.
But despite giving Paul George 34 points, his defense has come together, his bench has come around and all Harden has looked like an MVP, which makes everyone better.
“The biggest thing is that they know they are going to get opportunities. They know that he is very selfless, has got great vision and is going to manipulate the defense, ”said Nash. “It gives them confidence that they are sounding; Which gives you life.
“It gives you life to know that someone is looking for you, someone wants to give you the ball, and if [defenders] Make a mistake, you are going to get it. So when you’re a player of his caliber, there’s a bit of secret sauce, because it gives the team a little extra confidence, a little extra emotion and hope that you’re part of it. And James has done a beautiful job that facilitates this. “
Harden’s former Houston teammate Patrick Beverley tried to get out of his game early, trying to protect him from infection and getting into it with the Nets star. If anything, this made Harden more aggressive.
Down 21–15, the Nets went 13–1 to lead 28–22. And even though he had a brief hiccup – allowing the first dozen points, the first and second quarters to go down by six – Brooklyn recovered almost immediately.
Harden moved the Nets between a second-to-four lead before Nash relieved him. He did not return until 2:11 left, in the half, when a free throw from Joe Harris made it 54–48.
Nash got away with those stolen minutes, and paid it off.
The Nets continued to take control through the third quarter, largely on the strength of their rapidly improving defense.
Harris knocked his first 3-pointer out of the game, and then Irving leaked the downcourt for a fast break bucket and a 69-58 lead. Irving’s rare double-pump breakaway dunk sent the Nets’ bench into celebration and left the Clippers in the third in a timeout with 9:06 left.
The Nets thumped the Cushions at 94–79 on a Harris 3. Granted, they missed five of their first seven shots in the fourth and let the Clippers back. A Paul George 3-pointer took a 9–0 lead and cut the lead to just 96–90 with 6:54 to play. But Harden, while keeping the tide on, lobbed 3 runs on George, killing the run.
Brooklyn led 105–99 with 2:50 left when Beverly lost Jeff Green to an injury following a foul. He saw it cut to a deuce on Lou Williams 3 with one minute to play, and Jordan’s foul kept Leonard remaining in regulation 28.6 seconds.