Kevin Durant knew the rest of the league had to watch, curious how good the Brooklyn Nets can be when all of their superstars are playing.
Well, here is the answer.
Durant scored 27 points, James Harden added 25 points and 16 assists, and Brooklyn clinched an easy victory over Chicago, beating the Bulls 138-112 on Wednesday night in a clash between the top two teams in the Conference of the ‘East.
Durant had 17 points in the third to help Brooklyn open a game tied at 71 points early in the quarter. The Nets, second, silenced a noisy crowd and took the win with the roster’s three superstars for just the second time.
“We try not to make any statements to the league,” Durant said. “I mean, it doesn’t matter what they think. We know what we’re bringing to the table, and it’s all up to us. But I’m sure people were watching the game tonight.”
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Kyrie Irving scored nine in his third game. The seven-time All-Star has refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and is not allowed to dress in New York City due to the city’s tenure.
But Durant dominated over 30 minutes and finished with nine assists. Harden hit five 3 points. Patty Mills scored 21 and made 6 of 8 from beyond the arc, helping Brooklyn gain the upper hand after losing five of seven.
The Nets also avoided a three-game sweep by the Bulls. More than anything, they have shown just how dangerous they can be when they have all of their best players available. This has not happened often over the past two years.
“We’re so good,” Harden said. “We have a chance to be that good. We just don’t have enough.”
Zach LaVine scored 22 points. DeMar DeRozan added 19 points. But Chicago lost for the second time in three games after winning nine in a row to tie their best run since the end of the 2010-11 regular season. The Bulls also saw their nine-game home winning streak interrupted.
“I think you own it,” said coach Billy Donovan. “I think our guys have worked hard so far to be where we are in the standings, and with that there is more responsibility.”
The Nets outscored the Bulls 39-19 in the third to turn a two-point halftime lead into a 101-79 advantage.
Durant was 10 in about two minutes, including a 3 to reach 99-79 before Irving led for a layup in the last minute.
By then, the Nets were off to a good start. They took control halfway through the third with an 18-4 streak to open a game tied at 71, a 3-point score by Mills, making it 89-75.
“When that run happened I think it was just kind of a continuous flow that we’ve had since the first half,” said Irving. “We just felt like once we opened that opening, that we hit a few more 3s, that it made it difficult for them on the defensive end – we felt like we would have control of the game. . “
“I’m in Jersey. I go to the facility in Brooklyn to get treatment, do some exercise, then go home and be with my son or my fiancee or both. If you only understood how many people supporting the Nets in my hometown and also where I’m from is a lot. Sometimes it can be a little overwhelming. I can’t really go out and watch a local bar or something. “- Irving on where he watches the Nets home games.
Nets: Although Chicago has a similar tenure as New York, one exception allowed Irving to play. It applies to visiting professional and university athletes as well as non-resident performance artists. … C Nic Claxton (left hamstring tightener) missed the game.
Bulls: Donovan had no update on F Derrick Jones Jr., who left with a right knee injury after 36 seconds of the game. He twisted it by pulling it near the Chicago basket and had to be helped from the back. … G Alex Caruso missed his 10th consecutive game and his fourth since entering the NBA’s COVID-19 protocol. He’s missed the first six of them with a sprained left foot, and Donovan doesn’t expect him to play against Golden State on Friday.
Nets: Hosts Oklahoma City Thursday.
Bulls: Golden State host Friday.