League-leading Nets look to maintain NBA dominance

Nets forward Kevin Durant dunks during a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Barclays Center.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets have embraced their reputation as an NBA-dominating Goliath as they begin to reach mid-season form 16 games into the season.

The team from Barclays Center boasts an 11-5 record, which puts them tied for first place in the league’s Eastern Conference along with the Miami Heat. 

Despite losing the services of all-star point guard Kyrie Irving, who has missed every game this season due to his unvaccinated status, the Nets still feature forward Kevin Durant and shooting guard James Harden — two of the best players in the league, who have both previously won the prestigious NBA Most Valuable Player award.  

The team started this week playing back-to-back home games at Barclays Center, first dropping a game to the red-hot Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, before rebounding with a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The first loss of the week, though, exposed some weaknesses still present in the team. 

After the Warriors won 117-99, with an underwhelming 19-point performance for Durant, and Harden adding only 24, the team’s superhero sidekicks failed to pick up the weight, leaving the team shy of topping Stephen Curry’s 37 points in the loss.

“It obviously fell apart a little bit in the third.” said Nets Head Coach Steve Nash. “I thought we got really stagnant with the ball and our energy dropped. It wasn’t enough fight against a team that’s that good.” 

James Harden stated how the absence of wing Joe Harris due to an ankle injury affected the Nets. 

“We’re still trying to figure things out,” Harden said. “Obviously, losing Joe hurt us a lot because we depend on him as far as spacing and having an extra body out there.” Harden followed this statement by saying, “it is what it is, you wipe it away, we get ready tomorrow.” 

About 24 hours later, the Nets returned to the floor at Barclays Center to host the Cavaliers, where they bounced back and showed their ability to overcome adversity.

The Nets outscored the opposition in three out of four quarters; 31-25, 31-16, 19-32, and 28-26 to get the 109-99 victory. 

Harden once again led the Nets in scoring with 27 points. Harden also punched in ten rebounds, seven assists, and two steals. Three other Nets players scored over 20, as LaMarcus Aldridge scored 24 points, Kevin Durant had 23 and Patty Mills scored 21 points for the evening. The Cavaliers’ veteran point guard, Ricky Rubio put up 25 points on the board, followed by Darius Garland’s 24, as the Cavs fell short of the victory.  

The Nets will be hosting the Orlando Magic on Friday, before getting on the road to face Cleveland on the 22nd and the Boston Celtics on the 24th.