NBA

Nets 'rightfully excited' after Harden leads historic fightback

By Sports Desk February 17, 2021

Steve Nash said the Brooklyn Nets were "rightfully excited" about "a great morale booster" after a sensational fightback against the Phoenix Suns.

The Nets were down 24 points late in the second quarter and 21 at halftime, failing to lead at any point until a clutch James Harden three with 31.4 seconds remaining.

Harden added late free throws to clinch an epic 128-124 win, the first in franchise history after trailing by 21 points or more through two quarters.

The victory came despite Kyrie Irving's absence with tightness in his lower back, while Kevin Durant remained out due to a hamstring injury.

Coach Nash said of the locker room post-game: "It's all vibes in there right now, all vibes.

"The guys are rightfully excited. It's a great morale booster, especially missing Kevin and Ky and finding a way to make up for a 24-point deficit.

"We showed a lot of character, a lot of heart, and as a coaching staff, that just makes you proud."

Harden carried the team in the closing stages when the Nets went on a 12-0 run over the final two and a half minutes.

The last team to trail by at least eight points at that stage of a game before scoring 12 or more unanswered points to win were the Los Angeles Lakers in Kobe Bryant's final game in 2016.

Harden contributed 38 points - his most since moving to Brooklyn - along with 11 assists and seven rebounds, but he hailed the effort of the whole team.

"This is the true definition of a team; one man, two men go down, it's just next man up," he said.

"We got down 20-something at halftime and we didn't give up, we didn't quit, kept fighting. We cut the deficit down, kept fighting, and gave ourselves the chance to win it at the end of the game. Things went our way."

It does not get any easier for the Nets now, though, with defending champions the Lakers up next.

"We know who they have over there," Nash said. "We know how well they're coached and what they've been able to do in the last year or so.

"So it's a great test for us. You load the guys up and be ready to go and try to keep getting better."

But Harden is focused only on Brooklyn's continued improvement as they aim to extend a four-match winning run, over which Harden has averaged 26.3 points per game.

"Obviously, offensively we're really, really good," he said. "Defensively, we're not so great.

"So we have to find ways to be better in that category, which we all know. We're working on that, and whether it's the Lakers or any other team, that doesn't get us excited because we're still working on ourselves, if that makes sense.

"Obviously, we understand that calibre of team we're playing. But then the whole situation is we are working on ourselves."

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