Durant had 33 points and 10 rebounds, Irving scored seven of his 19 points in the final 1:12 and the Brooklyn Nets beat the New Orleans Pelicans 108-102 on Friday night.
“Our growth as a team is just seeing some of the leaders on our team, myself included, being ready,” said Irving, whose 3-pointer from 29 feet with 44 seconds remaining gave the Nets a 106-100 lead. and condemned New Orleans to just its fifth home loss this season. “That’s probably where I feel like we’re making incredible strides in games like this.”
TJ Warren scored 15 points for Brooklyn and Royce O’Neale added 14, including a 3-pointer with 2:27 remaining.
“There’s going to come a time when the shots don’t drop, like tonight,” said Durant, who shot 9 of 26 but also made all 11 of his free throws. “I liked how we kept grinding despite everything.
“You still have to go out and look at the defensive side of the ball,” Durant continued. “Those are the kind of games you want to play to get to know your team and find out even more, because you’re a totally different team when your shots don’t go in. So, it was a good test for us.”
CJ McCollum scored 28 points and Naji Marshall scored a career-high 23 points for the Pelicans in their second game since losing Zion Williamson for what is expected to be about three weeks to a strained hamstring. right hamstring
Jose Alvarado added 17 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which hasn’t had forward Brandon Ingram (bruised left big toe) in the lineup in 20 games.
“Obviously we have a few fewer players,” Alvarado said. “We had a chance to win the game and certain things didn’t go our way. … Kyrie hit a big 3 and made it a bit difficult, but we have to look back and learn.”
The Pelicans led for much of the game but struggled to hit shots in the second half, finishing on 39.8% shooting (35-of-88).
New Orleans made just 2 of 12 3-pointers in the second half after going 10 of 17 in the first. Meanwhile, Nets center Nic Claxton protected the paint with five blocks.
Defensively, the Nets were “really aggressive in the second half”, Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn noting his team’s “ability to contest shots at the rim”.
“Nothing was easy,” Vaughn said. “There are no driverless 3 transitions that we abandoned earlier in the game.”
Brooklyn shot 43.5% (37-of-85), including 15-of-33 from deep.
After trailing as many as 15 in the second quarter and 11 at halftime, the Nets opened the third quarter on a 17-5 run, capped by O’Neale’s second-chance 3-pointer, to take a 70-69 lead. . The game stayed tight from there until the final minutes.
Marshall helped the Pelicans get off to a fast start with 10 points in the first quarter, highlighted by three 3-pointers.
Alvarado’s 3-pointer and a driving layup sparked an 11-0 run that gave the Pelicans a 43-28 second-quarter lead, and New Orleans led 64-53 at halftime.
The Nets “came out in the second half, got it back, took more shots, got a little more physical with us and I thought it affected our strength and our pace,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “We had a number of guys guarding Kyrie, guarding Kevin, trying to get to his shooters. I thought we did a solid job. We didn’t do enough to win the game, but we can keep building.”
Nets: They’ve won four in a row in New Orleans. … I’ve won six straight games against Western Conference teams. … He improved to 24-8 since Vaughn took over as head coach Nov. 1, first as an “interim” before that word was dropped from his title Nov. 9.
Pelicans: Trey Murphy III scored 11 points. … Marshall has scored 20 or more in three games this season. … With Three Kings Day ushering in the Carnival season that runs through Mardi Gras Day, the Pelicans unveiled their “City Edition” uniforms in the purple, green and gold colors that have been associated with the festivities. Mardi Gras in New Orleans since the 1870s.
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