The Brooklyn Nets climbed to the No. 1 spot in the East after beating the Houston Rockets 120-108 at Barclays Center on Wednesday night.
The Nets welcomed Houston Rockets for the game, with the Nets hoping for the top spot and the Rockets wanting a win.
The Rockets’ starter started strong, making 42 points in the first quarter, and the Nets only dropped 29 points.
The Rockets made eight of their first nine shots, including all five of their 3-point attempts.
Consequently, taking a 24-6 lead five minutes into the game. Rockets’ Irving scored eight straight points with a pair of threes to trim the score.
But the Rockets continued to roll on the offensive end, shooting 15-of-19 overall and 7-of-9 from 3-point range in the first quarter to take a 42-29 lead.
Meanwhile, Irving and Harden combined for 26 of Brooklyn’s first-quarter points. By halftime, Irving had 18, and Harden had 17.
And the Nets only made 4-of-18 3-pointers in the first half and were losing by 11 points.
The Rockets lead 82-69 with five minutes to go in the third quarter. The Nets needed someone to step up and score to cut the score.
Kyrie Irving stepped up for the Nets.
After the Rockets were leading 82-69, the Nets stepped up. Irving started a 12-0 run with six straight points.
Then Griffin made a reverse layup, including a three-point play. Then Irving dropped a 3-pointer despite the Rockets’ Harris guarding him.
That cut the score and brought the Nets within 82-81. Subsequently, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot dropped a 3-pointer, and soon Brooklyn took the lead 86-85.
It was the first lead of the game for the Nets before the Rockets took an 87-86 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Nets were without their star player James Harden as they entered the fourth quarter.
It was Kyrie Irving all over the game as he finished with 31 points, 12 assists, and four rebounds to help Brooklyn win, defeating the Rockets, 120-108.
Irving took control of the ball-handling responsibilities with James Harden forced to leave the game unexpectedly.
Irving played his role with great success as the Nets won the game against the Rockets.
He dropped a double-double for the Nets’ win over the Rockets.
Without James Harden in the game, the pressure will be on Kyrie Irving to win for the Nets.
Kyrie received the support he needed from his teammates.
Besides Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin gave the Nets good minutes off the bench, finishing with 11 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Similarly, Nicolas Claxton once again had himself a solid night off the bench.
As he dropped 12 points, eight rebounds, one assist, and a big block in 21 minutes.
Joe Harris contributed for the Nets and finished with 28 points on 7-of-12 shooting from deep.
He also hit consecutive 3-point daggers in the final minute to seal the win. The win gave the Nets to 33-15 record on the season.
For the Rockets, Kevin Porter Jr led the team with 20 points in 31 minutes, followed by Danuel House Jr with 18 points in 30 minutes.
With the loss, Houston falls to 13-34 on the year.
James Harden leaves in the third quarter due to injury.
Harden has been phenomenal throughout this season, specifically in March, and carried the Nets without other key players to support.
The Nets entered this game with James and Kyrie to lean on.
But as the Nets entered the third, James exited the game due to injury.
James Harden was forced to leave in the second half with 4 minutes remaining into the third quarter due to a hamstring injury.
Harden suffered some tightness in his right hamstring and did not come back for the fourth quarter.
“We’re gonna monitor it. I don’t have a lot to tell you,” coach Steve Nash said after the game. “We feel confident it’s not a long-term thing.”
The Nets and Rockets were in a competitive basketball game after three quarters, with the score 91-89 early in the fourth quarter.
Harden was only able to score 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists in 27 minutes for the Nets.
The Nets are already down Kevin Durant as he is also dealing with a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the past few months.
If Harden misses other games, too, then the Nets will have Irving to lean on. It’s nothing new for the Nets.
As they were mostly without all three superstars healthy or in the lineup at the same time.
This is bad news for James Harden, as he is playing as the frontrunner for the MVP this year.
He is putting up close to a triple-double per game in March, averaging 28.9 points, 12 assists, and 9.9 rebounds per game.
The Nets entered this game with a 10-2 record this month, which effectively launched Harden into the NBA MVP conversation.
More for the Brooklyn Nets
More on James’ injury is yet to be out, but the Nets and James are hoping it won’t be for the long term.
After the win, the Nets now take the No. 1 spot in the Eastern conference and stand at 33-15.
The Nets will be back in action this Thursday as the team hosts the Charlotte Hornets and subsequently will face the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.