It took 18 years, but the Brooklyn Nets have finally defeated the Spurs in San Antonio. The Nets pulled away from the Spurs in overtime, outscoring San Antonio 16-5 in the extra period. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich seemed to waive the white flag in overtime, by playing his younger players in clutch time. Regardless of who was on the court for the Spurs, the Nets were stellar in the extra period. Brooklyn’s improving defense was able to hold the Spurs to just 5 points in 5 minutes. The Nets blew an 8 point lead in the final minute of regulation, but didn’t let this momentum shift prevent them from exploding in overtime. The Nets are now 23-13 for the season, and 9-1 in their last 10 games. Brooklyn sits just half a game behind Philadelphia for first place in the East.
James Harden Continues His Nets MVP Campaign
James Harden led the way once again for Brooklyn. He posted 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 15 assists. Harden is amongst the league’s top MVP candidates, and for good reason. Performances like tonight remind everyone of how dominant James Harden is. There were questions about how he would fit into the Nets system. People even questioned his conditioning and his commitment to basketball. Harden is proving everyone wrong, and is showing the world that the Nets can contend even without Kevin Durant. Harden is rebounding the ball at an unreal clip, especially for a guard. His contributions on the defensive end along with his playmaking abilities establish Harden as the leader of this team and a top MVP candidate. Harden was rewarded today with Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors. The Nets look for Harden to continue his stellar play against his former team tomorrow night in Houston.
Despite Harden’s heroics, it was a balanced team effort from the Brooklyn Nets. Kyrie Irving poured in 27 points and 7 assists, while playing 42 minutes. Irving missed an open layup in regulation that could’ve sealed the game, but he made up for it with his spectacular all-around play. Additionally, Bruce Brown had one of the best games of his young career. Brown dropped 23 points, but made his mark on the game on the defensive end. Brown essentially was playing power forward, with the Nets choosing to play small. Besides Brown, Irving, and Harden, only one other player was able to score in double figures. Nicolas Claxton scored 17 points in just 17 minutes.
This may have been Claxton’s best NBA game to date. The sophomore big man blocked three shots as well, and finished the game with a higher plus-minus than starting center DeAndre Jordan. Claxton was very impressive in limited minutes against the Spurs. Even in limited playing time, Claxton is a player who can provide a spark off the bench for a contending team. He is very similar to what Chris “Birdman” Andersen was for the Heat in 2013. Claxton is a player who will catch lobs, block shots, and get extra possessions for his team. He does all the dirty work and will ignite the fans when Barclays Center is back to full capacity. Overall, this was an impressive nail-biting road victory for the Brooklyn Nets led by their two stars and a couple of under-the-radar role players.