Kyrie Irving and James Harden combined for 47 points as the Brooklyn Nets proved irresistible in their 129-92 triumph against the Orlando Magic.

Irving led the way with 27 points and nine assists, shooting 11 of 18 from the field and Harden dropped five threes from his 10 attempts from downtown to power Brooklyn to an eighth straight win.

The All-Star duo were supported by Joe Harris, who sank four of six threes for 14 points, while Landry Shamet came off the bench to score 19 points, tying Harden with five from distance. 

After the Magic opened up a 10-point lead during the first quarter, the Nets went 41-19 in the second quarter and never looked back, with Nikola Vucevic finishing with 28 points for Orlando.

Still waiting on Kevin Durant to return from a hamstring injury, the 22-12 Nets are second only to the Philadelphia 76ers (22-11) in the Eastern Conference.

Close on their tails are the third-placed Milwaukee Bucks, who beat the New Orleans Pelicans 129-125 to go 20-13, with Giannis Antetokounmpo (38 points) outshining Zion Williamson (34).

 

Beal and Westbrook chemistry continues for Wizards

The Washington Wizards made it a 3-1 road trip, following up on wins against the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers with a 112-110 victory against the Denver Nuggets.

The NBA's leading scorer Bradley Beal buried 33 points while Russell Westbrook made it three triple-doubles in five games with his 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

George comes up short for Clippers

Tyus Jones was the game's top scorer in the Memphis Grizzlies' 122-94 win against the Los Angeles Clippers despite only spending 15 minutes on court.

Jones was the only player in the game to make 20 points, as Clippers guard Paul George only dropped three of his 12 field-goal attempts for his 13 points.

 

Zion producing coast-to-coast

Williamson may have come out on the losing side but the 20-year-old not only matched Antetokounmpo almost blow-for-blow, but he also showcased some razor-sharp defensive skills. 

Thursday's results

Philadelphia 76ers 111-97 Dallas Mavericks
New York Knicks 140-121 Sacramento Kings
Brooklyn Nets 129-92 Orlando Magic
Memphis Grizzlies 122-94 Los Angeles Clippers
Washington Wizards 112-110 Denver Nuggets
Milwaukee Bucks 129-125 New Orleans Pelicans

 

Jazz at Heat

The NBA-leading Utah Jazz looked untouchable during a blowout win over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Miami Heat have also recently knocked off the defending champions and are on a four-win stretch.

The high-flying Brooklyn Nets made it six straight wins in the NBA with a 112-108 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Brooklyn were missing star Kevin Durant (hamstring) once again, but James Harden (37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists) and Kyrie Irving (28 points and eight assists) stepped up in his absence.

The Nets held a 10-point lead at the final break but roared on by billionaire owner Steve Ballmer in the front row, the Clippers pushed hard in the last.

With the Nets leading 110-108 with 10 seconds to play, Clippers star Kawhi Leonard (29 points and 13 rebounds) was called for a tough offensive foul on former MVP Harden, spurning their final chance at victory.

The Nets have beaten all five Pacific Division teams on the road over their last 5 games. According to Stats Perform, Brooklyn are the first NBA team to beat an entire division on the road in consecutive games since the Milwaukee Bucks did so against the Pacific Division over their last five games of the 1972-73 season.

Brooklyn wrapped up a 5-0 road trip – their longest undefeated single trip in franchise history.

The Nets improved to 20-12 in the Eastern Conference – a half-game adrift of leaders the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Clippers slipped to 22-10.

James Harden warned the Brooklyn Nets are still growing after taking down Kawhi Leonard's Los Angeles Clippers as they extended their winning streak to six games in the NBA.

The star-studded Nets wrapped up a 5-0 road trip – their longest undefeated single trip in franchise history – with a 112-108 victory against the Clippers on Sunday.

Former MVP Harden (37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists) and star team-mate Kyrie Irving (28 points) combined to inspire the Nets in the absence of Kevin Durant (hamstring).

The Nets have beaten all five Pacific Division teams on the road over their last 5 games. According to Stats Perform, Brooklyn are the first NBA team to beat an entire division on the road in consecutive games since the Milwaukee Bucks did so against the Pacific Division over their last five games of the 1972-73 season.

"The most I'm proud of is our mindset every game, every possession," said Harden, who joined the Nets from the Houston Rockets in a blockbuster trade in January.

"We don't take our opponent lightly at all, no matter who we're playing it's the same goal. It's the same mindset and that is to go out there and help each other defensively. Offensively, take your shots when you're open and when you're not, be unselfish. And it's contagious on both ends of the floor as you can see.

"So, we're still growing, but this is a really good road trip for us and now we get the opportunity to go back home and keep playing that same brand of basketball."

The in-form Nets (20-12) are now within half a game of Eastern Conference leaders the Philadelphia 76ers (20-11).

"I think just staying resilient with everything that's going on, not just within our league but in the world," Irving said about the Nets' winning run. "Obviously, we know how much of a privilege and blessing it is to be able to play this game every day so we just want to wish all the families at home well during these times.

"We get two hours, two and a half hours, three hours of basketball just entertaining people, so we don't take that for granted. Besides the winning streak, that's great, I just feel like it's a bigger purpose out here, so we're just having fun and we get to compete against the best. So that's why I think our resilience is probably what I'm most grateful for."

"We're all individuals, but we can hold each other to a standard where we all meet," continued Irving. "I think we've been able to communicate that in a very unique way. Steve [Nash] holds us accountable because we need to be coached. I don't know everything, everyone else on the team [doesn't], so it takes a full collective effort for us to go against these great teams.

"That's what I feel. I think he's right. I agree with him on that sentiment, but like I said, it's just a standard we can hold each other to. We want to be coached hard."

Nets head coach Steve Nash added: "A non-negotiable step in any team's aspirations is to have that resolve and toughness and connectivity. I've been saying that since day one and we're starting to see more consistent efforts. I just get a sense that our guys are coming together a little more off the floor as well.

"They're finding a bit of a bond and a joy playing together and fighting for one another and that is, other than the toughness and application I talked about, the fact that those guys have come together a little bit more, look like they like each other and want to play for each other has been the most positive part of the last six games."

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant have been named as team captains for the 70th NBA All-Star game on March 7.

Serving as a team captain for the fourth straight year, James received the most votes to earn his 17th All-Star appearance, and is joined in the Western Conference starters pool by Golden State Warriors’ three-point specialist Stephen Curry, who is selected as an All-Star for the seventh time.

Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers is named an All-Star for the fifth time, while Denver Nuggets centre Nikola Jokic makes a third appearance, and the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic is called up for a second time to round off the starters pool from the west.

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant will sit out Thursday's clash with NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers due to a left hamstring strain.

Durant will miss his third consecutive game, having also been sidelined for wins over the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings.

The former NBA MVP also missed three games due to the league's health and safety protocols before returning for his reunion with the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

Durant is averaging 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game for the star-studded Nets this season.

Fellow Nets star Kyrie Irving is also listed as probable to face LeBron James' Lakers due to lower back tightness after he was absent from Tuesday's 128-124 win against the Suns.

The Nets trailed the Suns by 21 points at half-time before rallying to win. It was the largest half-time deficit overcome to triumph in franchise history, per Stats Perform.

The Nets (18-12) are second in the Eastern Conference, behind the Philadelphia 76ers (18-10), following four consecutive wins.

LeBron James' double-double fired the Los Angeles Lakers back to winning ways, while James Harden stepped up to rally the Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets past the high-flying Phoenix Suns.

James put up 30 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists as the reigning NBA champions leaned on their defense in the 112-104 victory over the last-placed Minnesota Timberwolves.

Without the injured Anthony Davis, Dennis Schroder played the supporting role for James, posting 24 points, while the Lakers battled to claim eight steals and seven blocks in a closely fought contest.

After taking a two-point lead into the fourth quarter at Target Center, the road side pulled away in the closing stages to improve to 22-7 in second place in the Western Conference.

Harden pulled out the stops with a double-double to lead the Nets to a sensational 128-124 comeback win against the Suns, despite playing without Irving after the star guard felt tightness in his lower back.

Nets coach Steve Nash revealed Irving received treatment at half-time of Brooklyn's win against the Sacramento Kings on Monday but expects the six-time All-Star to only be sidelined in the short term.

The Nets surged, scoring 40 fourth-quarter points to turn around a 24-point deficit, with Harden (38 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds) backed up by Joe Harris (22 points) as they halted the Suns' six-game winning streak.

Jokic burns Celtics but Nuggets fall short, Zion on target for Pelicans

Nikola Jokic lit up the Boston Celtics, scoring 43 points, but the Denver Nuggets could still not make triple-digits as their three-game winning stretch was ended in a 112-99 loss.

Zion Williamson shot an efficient 31 points, sinking 13 of his 16 field-goal efforts and going four-of-four from the free-throw line, as the New Orleans Pelicans snapped a three-match losing run with a 144-113 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Meanwhile, Damian Lillard’s 31-point, 10-assist double-double led the Portland Trail Blazers past the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 115-104 win, while centre Enes Kanter pulled down 21 rebounds.

 

Bazley struggles to take his chances

The Thunder never recovered against the Blazers after falling 34-21 behind in the first quarter and forward Darius Bazley was one player that could not find his range.

Bazley shot four from 16 from the field for 14 points during his 36 minutes on court, only dropping one his seven efforts from three-point range.

 

Giannis powers up but the Raps edge the Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo proved unplayable at times, scoring 34 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' 124-113 loss against the Toronto Raptors, as he ghosted past three defenders for one of his buckets.

Tuesday's results

Boston Celtics 112-99 Denver Nuggets
Portland Trail Blazers 115-104 Oklahoma City Thunder 
Los Angeles Lakers 112-104 Minnesota Timberwolves
New Orleans Pelicans 144-113 Memphis Grizzlies 
Toronto Raptors 124-113 Milwaukee Bucks 
Brooklyn Nets 128-124 Phoenix Suns

 

Jazz at Clippers

There has been no stopping the Utah Jazz, who have won eight straight and 19 of their past 20 games to establish a lead in the Western Conference, but a tough challenge awaits when they go on the road to face the third-placed Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Jordan Clarkson and Ben Simmons were drawn into a high-scoring shoot-out as the NBA-leading Utah Jazz powered past the Philadelphia 76ers 134-123 in a mouth-watering showdown.

In a battle pitting the Western Conference-leading Jazz against Eastern Conference pacesetters, the Jazz came out on top thanks to Clarkson's 40 points.

Utah's Clarkson nailed a stunning eight three-pointers as he became first player to come off the bench and score 40 points in less than 30 minutes since 1991.

In response, 76ers All-Star Simmons fired up for a career-high 42 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, and Tobias Harris put up a 36-point, 10-rebound double-double, but the 76ers could not keep up with the Jazz.

Simmons opened with a career-best quarter of 19 points to give the 76ers a seven-point lead at the first buzzer before Utah took over and claimed an eighth straight win, and a 19th win in 20 games.

Missing Joel Embiid to a back injury, the 76ers' third straight loss opened the door for the Brooklyn Nets to close the gap in the east and they obliged, posting a franchise-record 25 three-pointers in a 132-121 win over the Sacramento Kings.

Kyrie Irving put up 40 points and former MVP James Harden added a triple-double (29 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds) to lead the Nets to a third consecutive victory as the struggling Kings fell to a fourth straight defeat.

Zach LaVine and Coby White proved unstoppable from downtown as the Chicago Bulls delivered a record-breaking display, while Luka Doncic's superb triple-double powered the Dallas Mavericks.

The Bulls exploded to post an all-time franchise best total of 25 three-pointers as Chicago halted the New Orleans Pelicans' four-match winning streak, 129-116, at the United Center.

LaVine delivered 20 points in the first quarter before going on to drop 46 in total, draining nine of his 14 three-point shots, while White added 30 points including eight of 17 buckets from distance.

The duo became the first team-mates in NBA history to each hit eight three-pointers in the same game as the Bulls came back from eight points down at the half to blow away the Pelicans.

The scorching-hot LaVine also became the first Chicago player to post 120 points in a three-game stretch since Michael Jordan in 1997 as the Bulls improved to 10-14.

Doncic posted his 32nd career triple-double as the Mavericks edged a nail-biting 118-117 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks to extend their winning streak to three.

The Slovenian star dropped 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Dallas trailed by nine at the start of the fourth quarter but finished strongly to close out the win and take their record to 12-14.

Atlanta's John Collins was the game's top scorer with 33 points, while Trae Young notched 25 points and 15 assists, but the Hawks could not find the decisive play in a wild final 90 seconds.


Giannis produces fireworks but Suns claim comeback win

The Phoenix Suns kept their momentum rolling, claiming a fourth straight win by edging Milwaukee 125-124 after coming back from 16 points down, but Giannis Antetokounmpo exploded for the Bucks.

The two-time NBA MVP carried his team on his shoulders, scoring a season-high 47 points and claiming 11 rebounds and five assists. Antetokounmpo almost snatched a remarkable victory but his buzzer-beater bounced back off the rim.

Indiana off the pace against Brooklyn

Malcolm Brogdon had a day to forget as the Indiana Pacers were held under 100 points, falling to their fourth straight defeat, in a 104-94 reverse against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Indiana guard had a 29.4 per cent field-goal success rate, scoring five of his 17 attempts, as the 12-13 Pacers could not match Kyrie Irving and James Harden's high-power offense.

LeBron sets up Matthews for key bucket 

With less than a minute remaining in overtime and the Los Angeles Lakers level against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wesley Matthews came up clutch.

LeBron James drove towards the paint in heavy traffic, before flipping the ball out right for Matthews to sink the key three-pointer.

The Lakers clinched a 114-113 overtime victory to improve to 20-6.

Wednesday's results

Toronto Raptors 137-115 Washington Wizards
Dallas Mavericks 118-117 Atlanta Hawks
Los Angeles Clippers 119-112 Minnesota Timberwolves
Memphis Grizzlies 130-114 Charlotte Hornets
Brooklyn Nets 104-94 Indiana Pacers
Chicago Bulls 129-116 New Orleans Pelicans
Denver Nuggets 133-95 Cleveland Cavaliers
Los Angeles Lakers 114-113 Oklahoma City Thunder 
Phoenix Suns 125-124 Milwaukee Bucks

 

76ers at Trail Blazers

Led by the in-form Joel Embiid, the 18-7 Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers go on the road to face another team with a winning record, the 13-10 Portland Trail Blazers, on Thursday.

Kyrie Irving accepts the Brooklyn Nets "look very average" but insisted the rest of the NBA will be on notice when the team finally starts to click. 

The Nets have assembled a star-studded cast with James Harden arriving last month to form an exciting 'Big 3' alongside Irving and Kevin Durant. 

But since Harden's heralded arrival, the Nets have gone 7-6. Tuesday's disappointing 122-111 loss to the Detroit Pistons was their third in a row and they have a 14-12 record for the season, comfortably behind Eastern Conference rivals the Philadelphia 76ers (18-7) and the Milwaukee Bucks (16-8). 

Defense has been a particular concern for the inconsistent Nets, a fact highlighted by the Pistons shooting 56 per cent from the field and 44.8 per cent from the beyond the arc. 

Irving knows the Nets, who were without Durant against the Pistons, are not living up to expectations but remains confident they will get it right as the season progresses.

"I don't think that we go out every single day and sacrifice the time to be average at anything," Irving told reporters.  

"We look very average, we have the talent that the eye test presents that we should be dominating. We have the experience in terms of some of our guys have been some through certain things, circumstances to be able to battle through. 

"We're the team that is literally battling against so many odds that at this point it's not even a reason to continue to comment on. They are what they are.  

"As a warrior that I am and the energy I have alongside my team-mates, we just have to turn that corner. We haven't done it yet but we will and I'm telling you the league is going to be on notice when that happens. We just have to take it by day by day."

The Nets have lost four of their past five outings, with three of those setbacks coming against teams who have losing records. 

Irving acknowledges the Nets need to address the perception the team is not playing hard enough. 

"I don't accept that, and I don't think our team accepts it as a whole, obviously we don't want that to be what teams think of us," he added.  

"We're seeing it day in, day out where guys and teams are coming out and punching us in the mouth early and we're playing catch up. 

"It happens to be against the guys with the least good records. We gotta call it for what it is, we gotta fix that. It takes maturity, accountability and a realisation of what we need to do moving forward." 

Irving missed the previous loss to the Philadelphia 76ers due to an injury to his right index finger – an issue that is still troubling him. 

"It sucks man," he said. "It's uncomfortable but at the same time I don't want to make excuses. 

"I'm out there, I do a lot of treatment on it, we're down a few players obviously as well. You just want to go out there and compete and worry about the pain later. I'm doing the best I can."

Kyrie Irving used a lacklustre defensive display against the Washington Wizards as motivation to lead the Brooklyn Nets to success against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

The Nets fell to a 149-146 defeat to the Wizards on Sunday, with Irving claiming he "couldn't guard a stick" after Russell Westbrook poured in a game-high 41 points.

The former Boston Celtics point guard responded with a strong display on both ends of the floor against the Clippers, scoring 39 points in a 124-120 success at Barclays Center.

"We just needed to respond, every single night is going to be different. I'm just trying to give what is needed on both ends of the floor," said Irving, who had two blocks and one steal.

"Like I said the other night, I took that personally, just not being able to guard anyone. Tonight I gave up a few drives but I feel like defensively as a team, including with my effort, we just matched it.

"We knew they were gonna bring it, so it was just an exciting game. Great competition for some of the top players in the world to go against each other on TV, so grateful to give the fans what they want."

Irving led a 13-0 run that included buckets from Kevin Durant and James Harden – who became the eighth player in NBA history to reach 50 career triple-doubles – as the Nets established a 10-point lead with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Clippers managed to bring the difference back to one but were unable to stop Brooklyn improving to 14-9 on the season.

"Late in games any coach in America wants the ball in their best players' hands," said Durant, who reached 500 points for the Nets in just his 17th game – a franchise record and the second-best mark all-time for a player on a new NBA team, after Wilt Chamberlain for the Warriors in 1959-60 (14 games).

"We've got three guys who are unselfish and know how to play, and I think we made the right plays down the stretch, especially Kyrie and James, controlling the ball.

"I felt like when those guys [have] got it on top, they've got the defense at their mercy so we've got to continue to be on the same page late in games."

On the Nets' late-game defense, he added: "You're down 10, you're shooting the ball with no conscience, they went in. Sometimes we got hands up on stuff, we gave up an and-one, but it wasn't anything easy I'll tell you that.

"I think they earned every point late in the game and that's what we want at the end of the day."

Head coach Steven Nash was proud of Brooklyn's defensive improvement against the team that entered the game with the best record in the league.

"We have the luxury of offensive talent, but we also have to defend. That is a difficult team to defend and we did a great job," said Nash.

"You know it is kind of tricky when the teams are constantly taking way more shots than you are.

"We'll keep cleaning up and we'll keep getting better. When they put up the effort that they did tonight, we'll be tough to beat."

James Harden said the Brooklyn Nets made the most of "a beautiful game plan" as they swept to a 147-125 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Nine Nets players finished with double-digit points, led by Harden and Kyrie Irving with 25 each, as the team earned a fourth successive victory. 

Harden landed a triple-double, having also had 11 assists and 10 rebounds, and Stats Perform data showed it was only the second time in Nets history that they have had nine players score 10 points or more in a game. 

The first occasion was in the then New York Nets' 1984 game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and this time they matched a franchise points record for a regulation game. 

That the Nets achieved their success without the injured Kevin Durant showed the deep strength and potential they possess. 

"The ball was moving," said Harden. "We were active on both ends of the floor. 

"Coaches drew up a beautiful game plan, and we executed on both ends of the ball. We like to see carryover, and these last few games we’ve been carrying over, we've been playing well, especially on the defensive end, and it's showing, so we've just got to keep it up."

The Nets improved to 13-8 for the season, with the combination of Irving and new arrival Harden, acquired this month from the Houston Rockets, beginning to purr. 

"I never say how long the process was going to take. But Ky is special," Harden said. "He got it going in the third quarter. And we just wanted him to keep going until he missed, and even when he missed keep going again." 

Irving got 12 points in that particular quarter and the Nets entered the fourth armed with a 21-point lead. 

"We've just got to find that balance of when to be aggressive and when to make plays," Harden said. "And I think even with our aggressiveness, we're still playmakers. 

"I think over the course of the game, we did a really good job of getting our guys involved in going aggressiveness, corner ball as well. So nothing really changes even when KD [Durant] is in the lineup as well." 

Irving, meanwhile, knows the Nets could, and perhaps should, achieve great things now that he, Durant and Harden are in their ranks, but that is not to say success is a given. 

"Just taking it day by day," said Irving. 

"I'm always going to say that I won't take anything for granted. It doesn't happen often in history where you have this group together at this point. 

"Some of the guys were starters last year on their respective teams, other guys are MVP candidates and to have all of that collective talent and not get the most out of it, we'd be doing ourselves a disservice so we just want to continue to just push each other and hold each other accountable."

James Harden insisted the best is yet to come for the Brooklyn Nets and their 'Big Three' as the former NBA MVP familiarises himself with fellow superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

The Nets have emerged as serious championship contenders after acquiring Harden in a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets earlier in January, teaming him up with Durant and Irving.

There have been teething problems – Harden, Durant and Irving are all dominant ball-handlers – but the Nets completed a sweep of the Miami Heat thanks to Monday's 98-85 win.

Harden posted 20 points and eight assists, Durant had 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Irving put up 16 points of his own at Barclays Center.

Asked about figuring out his role with the Nets, having only spent a matter of weeks in Brooklyn, eight-time All-Star Harden said: "I was in I was in a role for eight years, controlling the ball, dominating the ball. Now it's a different experience for me, but it's still great.

"It's still basketball at the end of the day. And I'm lucky to be able to do more than just one thing on the basketball court. So, it's fun. Like I said before it's a game within the game, you got to pick and choose when to be aggressive, when it gets your shooters going, when to let KD and Kyrie get going.

"Once we get a rhythm and flow and we kind of start to feel each other out more, it'll be a lot easier for us, and our team will have a lot more flow throughout the course of the game.

"Right now we're trying to find it, and we show a really good glimpses of it, but it'll be more consistent."

Two-time NBA Finals MVP Durant – also a league MVP – stayed hot as the Nets took down the Heat again.

Durant registered his 14th consecutive double-double, becoming the fourth player in league history to do so alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Adrian Dantley and Dominique Wilkins.

On former Oklahoma City Thunder team-mate Harden, Durant added: "Feels like he just transferred to a new school and he's trying to figure out the curriculum.

"And it's going to take some time to figure out who your teammates are, what your rotations are in the game, when to be aggressive, when to score, pass.

"As a scorer and the focal point of your offense, sometimes the balance between score and pass -- you got to figure that out each night."

Brooklyn's first-year head coach Steve Nash said of Harden: "Would I like James to be more aggressive? Yes. Will he be more aggressive in time? I think so.

"I think once he gets more comfortable with his team-mates, when he gets in better shape, when he's adapted to this whole new environment, we'll see an improved James scoring the ball."

Kyrie Irving revelled in a hard-fought victory for the Brooklyn Nets over the Miami Heat after he went into a "winning" zone in the fourth quarter.

The Nets got back on track after consecutive defeats to the Cleveland Cavaliers by overcoming the Heat 128-124 on Saturday.

Up against an inspired Bam Adebayo, who scored a career-best 41 points, Brooklyn relied on the star power of Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden to get them over the line.

"It's not every day you see this collection of guys playing together in NBA history, so we want to take full advantage of that," Irving told reporters.

Irving proved decisive, with 18 of his 28 points coming in the fourth quarter, including three three-pointers.

"It's winning time," Irving told reporters while explaining his mentality in the final quarter.

"I've always said that throughout my career. When it gets down to that point, obviously you just want to buckle down on the defensive end, get stops, and I felt like we did that.

"We had two losses where we had to learn a lot very quickly and we just moved on to the next night. I feel like we gave the effort in spurts, and obviously we want to have more consistency in that, and that'll take time. I'm happy with the effort."

While Durant topped the Nets' scoring with 31 points, Harden also stepped up to the plate, posting 12 points and 11 assists with seven rebounds.

"It feels good not to have to score so much to give ourselves a chance to win a game," eight-time All-Star Harden said.

"I can go out there and just be a playmaker and shoot my shot when it's available and still get guys involved, and still have a chance to win the game.

"That's a change. But for me just being the player that I am, impacting the game in other ways other than scoring."

Durant, meanwhile, hailed Irving as the difference-maker.

"You've seen how special and talented and hard-working Kyrie is," Durant told reporters. "He works on all of those shots every day and he comes in with that mentality that especially late in the games he'll have to knock those down for us.

"He's an all-world player, he's a great team-mate but when the ball is in his hands late in the game, our team is just so unpredictable because he can make the pass, he can score in the mid-range, score in the three-point area, get to the basket and we've got weapons around him that makes it tough to guard.

"We're going to need that from him going forward and he was phenomenal in the fourth."

Though the Nets' star trio ultimately claimed the win, Miami's Adebayo was at his best, finishing with five rebounds and nine assists in addition to his 41 points.

"It was about time Bam had 40 in terms of getting a lot of those moves that he's been working on in the offseason," said Irving, who – against coronavirus protocols – attempted to swap jerseys with Adebayo on the court before a Heat official intervened.

"Just watching him grow since high school, be able to take over at this point for kind of an undermanned Miami team, it's good to see."

James Harden says the Brooklyn Nets must be "more engaged" on defense after a second successive loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers again exposed their weakness.

According to Harden, who made the point repeatedly in a brisk post-game news conference, it is communication that the Nets need to work on to reach their potential.

With Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in their ranks, such potential is obviously something very special indeed.

But as Harden stressed, all their scoring power will be negated if they leak too many points to the opposition, as they did in sliding to Friday's 125-113 defeat.

It was a result that sent Brooklyn sliding to 9-8 this season, and recent arrival Harden hopes there can be improvement in the games ahead.

He said: "Our communication, our position, we never really had practice time so we're learning on the fly.

"It's just constant effort. We've got to be more accurate on loose basketballs, do a better job on rebounding basketballs, and then do a better job of keeping our man in front of us.

"There are some of the aspects we can get better on. If we do those things, then the schemes and all those plays we can figure those out later, the principles are those small things.

"I've got to be a little more aggressive. Honestly, our problem isn't offense. We scored 113 points tonight and even in the last game it was more than enough to win the game.

"Defensively we have to be more engaged."

That last game, to which Harden referred, was the 147-135 double-overtime loss to the Cavs.

The former Houston Rockets player and eight-time All-Star said it is "little tweaks" that are required, starting from Saturday's clash with the Miami Heat.

"Individually, our communication from the other four guys - the four guys that aren't guarding the ball - has to communicate on where the help is, where to send the dribbler, and just communicate, have each other's back," Harden said.

"Once our communication from all five guys are in sync, our defense will be that much better.

"But it seems like we're on an island out there and we have to all do a better job, including myself, of communicating and helping each other out defensively and that will happen."

With Durant absent after an Achilles problem, Harden bagged 19 points and 11 assists and Irving scored a game-high 38 points.

And while the combination of the three Nets superstars seems sure to click, Harden knows what the priority must be.

"As much as we can talk about scoring - we're very good at scoring - we've got to round up some stops and once we get that going we'll be in the lead on both sides of the ball, but right now our problem is defense," Harden said.

"[On Saturday] we've got another chance to get better."

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash was reluctant to overreact after another humbling loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he insisted his star-studded line-up must improve as Kyrie Irving embraces the challenge.

Despite boasting Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant, the Nets were swept by the Cavaliers in Cleveland following Friday's 125-113 defeat.

After losing 147-135 to the Cavaliers in double overtime on Wednesday, the Nets were again beaten by Cleveland, this time in the absence of Durant (Achilles rehab).

Despite boasting All-Stars and former MVPs in Irving, Harden and Durant, Brooklyn's defensive fragilities were exposed after being outrebounded 50-29 on Friday, while the Nets allowed 134 points in the paint across the two games.

"I don't want to overreact — but it is something we have to continue to chip away at," first-year coach Nash said afterwards. "We have to build that resolve, that hunger that desire to win some hustle battles, to win the turnover margin, to win the rebounding margin. Win in other ways.

"We've got a lot of things to work on. There's a lot to clean up. It's very early. It's relatively knew having Ky back after two weeks. James joining the team. Kevin sitting out tonight. It’s a lot thrown at us. So, you know, I don't want to overreact, but we are going to urge the guys to clean up as much as we can the hustle areas. But also, schematically, just continue to refine and get better and you know how this league is.

"A few days ago, we were on a four-game winning streak and now we under performed in two games. So, we've got to find a way to get ourselves playing a little cleaner, a little sharper, trying to clean up some of these categories that we're not competing well enough in."

Irving led the Nets with a game-high 38 points on the road, while Harden put up 19 points and 11 assists – his fourth double-double in as many appearances since joining in a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets as Brooklyn fell to 9-8 in the Eastern Conference.

Nash added: "You see you see the records. We've done well against better teams. But we've talked to them about having a target on our backs and that you're gonna get people's best shots. They'll be excited to play the guys that we have on our roster. So there's a certain element of that.

"We have to make them aware of that discrepancy in the effort against the team we're playing, but also just overall that we stick to what we will what our path is. And it's not a normal season, so it's not going to be two days between games sometimes where you can practice. It's going to be very rare. We're gonna have to really keep chipping away. It's gonna be small margins and small growth, but continually have that be our plan and not get sideways over a couple of losses.

"So we got to demand, we got to expect, we got to push and at the same time we got to understand that it's not going to be straightforward this season because of the parameters that were facing."

The Nets have dropped consecutive games since Irving returned from a seven-game absence due to personal reasons, and he said: "Whatever we have to do moving forward, like I said this was two humbling losses.

"… now we lost tonight's game, back-to-back. Now what are we gonna do? Nothing more but to pick ourselves up out there as competitors, go home, talk about it. And now we play in less than 24 hours. So I'm looking forward to the challenge with my team-mates."

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