DeAndre Jordan outworked Marcus Morris underneath the basket to tip in the missed 3-point attempt by Kyrie Irving to help give the Brooklyn Nets a two-point lead with 11 seconds left in the game, as Brooklyn would ultimately go on to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-108 for their sixth straight win including a 5-0 stretch on their trip out West.
Most teams Brooklyn has taken down during their current winning streak have a chance to make some serious noise in the playoffs this season, and they did it without their best player, Kevin Durant, for all but one game.
“Winning six in a row, all it does is keep the world silent for a bit,” Irving said after the game. “When we hit a bump in the road, then it’s, ‘What’s going on with the Nets?’ The destination is making it to that main stage and earning our way there.”
On the following possession, Kawhi Leonard was called for an offensive foul after shoving James Harden out of the way on his drive to the rim. Whether you agree or disagree with the call, you gotta love Harden’s commitment to stick with Leonard on the drive and put himself in a position to prevent two easy points from going on the board in that type of situation, especially when a huge knock on Harden’s game has always been his effort on defense.
Harden finished with 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Irving added 28 points and eight assists. Jordan chipped in with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
For Los Angeles, Paul George had 34 points, seven assists and six rebounds. Leonard dropped 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Nets built a double-digit lead to end the third quarter and led by as many as 15 points early in the fourth, but it was George who paced an 18-7 Clippers run with 12 points in a near five and a half minute span to help bring his team within four points with just a little under 3:30 to play in regulation. George was then mysteriously subbed out at the 2:50 mark and never reentered the game, but head coach Ty Lue later told reporters that George was taken out because of a minutes restriction.
The Nets went back up by eight with George out of the game, but Leonard then led the Clippers to another run with six points, as Los Angeles tied the game at 108-108 thanks to a 9-1 spurt, which set up the dramatic finish.
The Nets forced the Clippers into 17 turnovers in this one which afforded them 27 points off turnovers, and a large part of that has to do with the Nets defense buying in and staying active as a unit.
“We just fell into the trap,” George said. “Their defense, they do a lot of switching. We kind of got out of our game of moving the ball and taking care of the ball.”
Not only did the Clippers struggle to read the Nets’ defense and take care of the ball, they just had no answer for the Nets’ offense inside, as Brooklyn outscored Los Angeles 60-38 inside the paint. Any time Irving or Harden got a step on their defender or had any sliver of space, they’d take full advantage and either get an easy bucket themselves or create an opportunity for others.
Bruce Brown was particularly active in this one. Not only did Brown contribute 13 points, eight rebounds and four steals, the gritty guard also contested 10 shots, recovered three loose balls on defense, deflected three balls and had five screen assists in this key matchup.
For all the drama in this game, what we got to see is something we almost never get to see from one of the league’s most talented guards.
KYRIE IRVING. SLAM DUNK. pic.twitter.com/to9yiYs4h2
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 22, 2021
Irving is known for crafty dribbling and historically great layup package, but the gifted performer showed he’s got another move up his sleeve, as he showed he can get up there with the best of them!