CHICAGO — The Nets had their Large 3 collectively for simply the second time all season — and for the primary time, they defeated an elite group.
Make that destroyed an elite group.
The Nets put collectively by far their most spectacular victory of the season, routing the red-hot Bulls 138-112 earlier than a sellout crowd of 21,698 at United Middle.
Kevin Durant completed with 27 factors and 9 assists, whereas James Harden added 25 factors and 16 assists. Nevertheless it wasn’t only a two-man present: The Nets blew the sport open with a 37-8 run and led by as many as 38 factors.
The Nets (26-14) used balanced scoring and free-flowing offense, and so they received each look they wished. They shot 56.3 %, and 17-for-32 from 3-point vary to climb inside 1 ½ video games of first-place Chicago within the Jap Convention.
Injured facilities LaMarcus Aldridge and Nic Claxton have been out, however the Nets received 20 factors and 7 boards from rookie Day’Ron Sharpe in his first profession begin to cool off the Bulls, who had received 10 of their final 11.
After the Large 3 had logged simply 17 minutes collectively beforehand this season, Durant and Harden every performed at the least half-hour and Kyrie Irving had 9 factors in 24:42 in simply his third recreation of the season.
“I believe it’s been nice. They performed one recreation collectively,” Steve Nash mentioned. “So James didn’t play Monday, so it’s actually early. Anytime these three get on the courtroom collectively, it’s thrilling for us.
“If we will get dozens of video games underneath our belt with these three enjoying, I believe we will actually develop one thing.”
What might be much more thrilling is how they performed collectively, and the influence they’d.
The Nets had been 0-8 towards elite groups, these golf equipment over .600 and within the prime 4 of every convention — the sort of contenders they’re going to need to be taught to beat in the event that they wish to earn their first NBA title.
“I believe the fellows know. They wish to get win towards Chicago as a result of we’ve misplaced to them twice. … And our objective is to be able to beat elite groups in April and Might,” Nash mentioned. “We’re not in that class. We’ve received to get there by the top of the season: That’s our objective.”
They positive regarded elite Wednesday, for the primary time in a very long time.
The Bulls led by 5 early, and had it tied at 29-all on Coby White’s 3-pointer with 2:43 left within the first quarter.
However the Nets took management with an 11-2 run that spanned the primary and second quarters.
Mills’ pull-up gave the Nets a 40-31 lead simply 16 seconds into the second, and so they by no means trailed once more.
When the Bulls clawed inside 53-51 on White’s operating layup, Kyrie Irving’s first factors of the evening — a jumper off Durant’s cross with 3:58 left within the half — and a Blake Griffin bucket padded it again to 6.
After consecutive baskets by Zack LaVine (22 factors) reduce the result in 57-55, Irving ran a two-man recreation with Durant and answered with a 3.
Lastly, when Chicago pulled even at 71-71 on a tip-in by Nikola Vucevic (14 factors) with 8:43 left within the third quarter, the Nets blew the sport fully open, reeling off a 42-8 run.
The primary 9 unanswered factors have been sparked by the protection. Kessler Edwards had a block and a steal, and Sharpe rejected Vucevic to result in a Harden 3-pointer. When Harden discovered Edwards for a layup, the cushion was again as much as 80-71.
Durant made a stellar cross-court look to search out Mills for a wide-open 3-pointer and an 89-75 lead. Then he drilled a 3 of his personal to make it 99-79 with 1:43 left within the third.
Durant by no means got here off the ground within the third and had 17 factors within the quarter. And by the point Mills’ free throw capped the run with 9:18 left within the fourth, the Nets have been rolling. They have been up 114-79 and on the way in which to an announcement win.
“I don’t learn about an announcement recreation, but it surely’s a fantastic problem for us,” Nash mentioned. “It’s a group that’s performed extraordinarily good basketball and has had an impressive 12 months and has a whole lot of confidence. So for us, we’ve been struggling recently. Whenever you battle, there’s a fantastic alternative to be taught essentially the most about your self.
“It’s not all about [Wednesday], however [it] could be a fantastic alternative to boost your stage of competitors, to be as aggressive as doable with ourselves to place out the most effective efficiency and proceed to develop. If we’re capable of win, it’ll give us a whole lot of confidence.”
What’s going to they get from a blowout?