Nets Blowout Pelicans, Durant Makes Long Awaited Return

The Brooklyn Nets have defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 139-111. The Nets improve to 36-16, good for 1st in the Eastern Conference. On the other hand, the Pelicans fall to 22-28, good for 11th in the Western Conference.

First Half

The Nets made a last minute change to the starting lineup, electing to start Bruce Brown over Kevin Durant. This change was made to limit Durant’s minutes, as he was on a minutes restriction in this game. This was Durant’s first game back after a 23 game absence, having not played since February 13.

The game got off to a competitive start, as there were 5 lead changes and 5 ties in the first quarter. The Nets started off hot from 3 point land, shooting 3 for their first 4. At the 5:10 mark of the first quarter, Kyrie Irving went baseline on Eric Bledsoe for a mammoth throwdown. Irving had a great quarter overall, with 9 points and 3 assists. Bledsoe was torching the Nets in the quarter, with 11 points. The Nets were capitalizing off the Pelicans 4 turnovers, scoring 11 points off of them. Additionally, Brooklyn was dominating New Orleans in fast breaking scoring 10-0. Finally, Blake Griffin hit a 3 pointer at the buzzer to give the Nets the lead. Durant would not play in the quarter. At the end of the 1st quarter, the Nets led 36-33.

Griffin continued his superb play in the second quarter, with another 3 pointer and a wide open dunk. He finished the half with 10 points. LaMarcus Aldridge and Steven Adams were battling in the paint all throughout the second quarter, banging bodies and exchanging scores amongst each other. Aldridge also hit 2 3 pointers, finishing the half with 14 points.

Durant finally entered the game at the 7:37 mark of the quarter, with his mother Wanda by his side as he entered. Durant started right where he left off, hitting his first shot, a midrange. He continued his scoring prowess, also getting fouled on a 3 pointer and hitting all 3 of his free throws. In 8 first half minutes, Durant finished with 9 points, including 2 for 2 from the field, 5 for 5 from the free throw line, and a +11. Irving also had a phenomenal half, with 20 points, including 4 for 4 from 3 and 5 assists. Brooklyn shot an outstanding 11 for 18, 61%, from 3 in the half. Brooklyn was able to extend its lead as high as 20 points, finishing with the half with this lead. Finally, the Nets led 79-59 at the end of the 2nd quarter.

For the Nets to keep their lead and finish out the game, they will need to continue their efficient scoring. Additionally, Brooklyn should continue to capitalize off the Pelicans turnovers and get out on the fast break. Furthermore, Brooklyn will need to defend better. If the Nets somehow get cold on offense, this will spell bad things for the Nets as the Pelicans are quite capable of scoring in bunches.

Second Half

Brooklyn continued pouring it on the second half and there was nothing New Orleans could do about it. Durant continued to look amazing, hitting a catch and shoot 3. His performance showed that he is without a doubt healthy and has not missed a beat. Durant, Irving, Aldridge, and Joe Harris were taking turns hitting shot after shot. While the Nets offense was amazing, the Pelicans defense was just so poor. The Nets were not missing, as even Bruce Brown was hitting 3 pointers.

It was undoubtedly evident how tired the Pelicans looked, this being their second night of a back to back, and their 5th game in 7 nights. Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy was as mad at his team as any coach has ever been, and had a disgusted look on his face the whole game. Moreover, Bledsoe received his second technical foul at the 1:29 mark of the third quarter, warranting him an ejection. This ejection did not help the Pelicans, as Bledsoe is one of New Orleans better defenders and was leading the team in points. At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Nets led 115-82.

Then, with the game definitely well out of hand for the Pelicans, Brooklyn elected to play Chris Chiozza, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Alize Johnson, Nicolas Claxton, Reggie Perry, and Brown the whole 4th quarter. The reserves sustained the good play throughout the quarter, even extending Brooklyn’s lead to 36 at one point. However, New Orleans outscored the Nets 29-24 in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough. Nonetheless, this gave Brooklyn a 139-111 win.

Upcoming Game for the Nets

Brooklyn will have the next 2 days off. On Saturday, the Nets will take on the Los Angeles Lakers on the second game of a three game homestand. The game will start at 8:30 PM EST and will be broadcasted on ABC.

Performances of Note

Brooklyn Nets:

Kyrie Irving – 24 points, 6 assists, 7-14 FG, 4-6 3PT, 6-6 FT, 30 minutes

LaMarcus Aldridge – 22 points, 2 blocks, 8-12 FG, 2-2 3PT, 4-4 FT, 23 minutes

Kevin Durant – 17 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 5-5 FG, 2-2 3PT, 5-5 FT, 19 minutes

Joe Harris – 14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 6-9 FG, 2-4 3PT, 22 minutes

Chris Chiozza – 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 4-5 FG, 2-3 3PT, 18 minutes

Jeff Green – 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 4-6 FG, 2-4 3PT, 21 minutes

Blake Griffin – 10 points, 4-6 FG, 2-4 3PT, 13 minutes

Bruce Brown – 9 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals, 2 blocks, 4-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 25 minutes

New Orleans Pelicans:

Eric Bledsoe – 26 points, 5 rebounds, 9-17 FG, 2-6 3PT, 6-6 FT, 29 minutes

Zion Williamson – 16 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 4-12 FG, 8-14 FT, 23 minutes

Lonzo Ball – 15 points, 6-11 FG, 1-6 3PT, 28 minutes

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