The Brooklyn Nets are working things out, but wait to look.
After losing four straight, Brooklyn won again, this time without Kevin Durant, and, as in their victory over the Jazz, they did it in style. Although Golden State had the upper hand for most of Sunday’s game, Brooklyn managed to pull off the late upset thanks to 62 points from Nic Claxton and Kyrie Irving combined. The Nets are currently 16-10 on the road after eliminating a 17-point Golden State lead. Brooklyn’s victory also ties them with the Bucks’ 4th place in the Eastern Conference.
“We are beginning to understand some things, and that is proof to our players of how our defense will play in the last run. You know, playing against [Golden State] takes work. Their style is unique. Thus, it would be best if you had an ideal strategy for the game. Jacque Vaughn remarked, “I thought we settled in and did some perfect things in the second half. But it means a lot to complete the journey, particularly when you’re trailing at the halfway point, to resist giving in, and to have the mental fortitude to complete it.”
As previously said, Irving once again shone, scoring 38 points while dishing out nine assists and grabbing seven rebounds. This is the first time in Irving’s career that he had three games where he scored 30 points or more, along with five rebounds and five assists.
In Golden State, Claxton achieved career highs in both points (24) and rebounds (15). This was his 15th double-double of the year, and with 12 games and counting, he broke the Nets record for most consecutive games with three or more blocks. There has been a breakout.
Stephen Curry led Golden State with 26 points, as expected. The bench players for Golden State were Donte DiVincenzo (13 points on four made three-pointers), Jonathan Kuminga (20 points), and Kevon Looney (14 points and ten rebounds).
The Nets hit a scorching 51.9% from three-point range, their third straight game of shooting 42% or higher from beyond the arc. This almost entirely offset the disparity in bench scoring indicated earlier, which Golden State dominated, 50-21. Irving, Claxton, Joe Harris (14 points on 4-of-7 from outside the arc), and Royce O’Neale (16 points, also on 4-of-7) all finished in double figures for Brooklyn. With seven points and only 29 minutes of action after being substituted late in the game due to back discomfort, Ben Simmons was the only Nets starter to fall short of double figures. Seth Curry filled the gap.
O’Neale made two three-pointers for Brooklyn in the opening minutes, including one after he drove with the ball in transition and produced a shot for himself. The Nets jumped out to an early 8-2 lead. Irving was seated early because he always takes Steph Curry’s matchups personally. He kept up his impressive jump shooting from Utah, and after missing a layup, he fought for two offensive rebounds before converting the putback. Unfortunately, Golden State led 33-28 after the first quarter of play after the Warriors finished the final six minutes of the quarter on a 23-11 run.
Brooklyn started strong, but Vaughn had to take a break at the 10:36 mark to replace a hobbled T.J. Warren later came back. In just 10 minutes of action, DiVincenzo scored four three-pointers for the Warriors and was unstoppable for Golden State. The Warriors purposefully fouled Claxton on almost every grab to get him to the line for free throws, where he shot 1-for-5 in the opening period. Thanks to this tactic, the Warriors increased their lead to 72-60 at the half.
“This is fantastic for Nic since he can be relied upon during the playoffs. He’ll keep building up his confidence, getting to the free throw line, and shooting if a team decides to adopt that tactic, according to Vaughn about Golden State’s approach. “We, therefore, left him there. If a team chooses to pursue that course of action, he will remain on the field.”
The Nets tightened their defensive clamps and started the third quarter on a 15-3 run to knock the score at 75. Then, at the 3:31 mark, Claxton made a sweeping layup over Kevon Looney to give the Nets their first lead. However, the Warriors regained the lead after Irving and Claxton left the game, ending the period on an 8-0 run. Golden State led 90-86 going into the final frame.
As Golden State’s firepower took hold to give the Dubs a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, the wheels started to come off. Fortunately, the Nets still had a run left in them, a 9-2 run that saw Claxton and Irving, Brooklyn’s two greatest players since Durant went down, put the team on their backs and cut Golden State’s lead to 3 points. At 1:50, the Nets finally executed a play with an exit screen for Joe Harris to shoot a 3-pointer and tie the game.
At the 1:21 mark, Irving made a pull-up jumper and committed a foul, giving Brooklyn the lead over Klay Thompson’s challenge. On the opposite end, Steph Curry was fouled and converted both free-throws attempt to put Golden State back in the lead. Golden State blitzed Irving up top after two failed jumpers from Curry and then two shots from Irving, but Kyrie kicked the ball to the open Royce O’Neale, who made the crucial shot. Brooklyn pulled off the unexpected upset in San Francisco and never looked back.
“It’s just the work I put in every day, honing my art and playing these games with self-assurance. About his crucial three-pointer, O’Neale said, “I mean, these guys have a lot of faith in me and have found me. And I’m just that man, confident in my abilities and trustworthiness.”