In a matchup between the No.1 offence in the NBA and the No. 1 defence, the Brooklyn Nets flipped the script, turning in one of their best defensive performances of the season to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-98.
Joe Harris hat the hot hand from deep, scoring 21 points, while James Harden continued his impressive form with 23 points and 11 assists, his 11th-straight double-double, a Nets franchise record.
Even Kevin Durant was impressed:
KD told the Beard to stop it 🤣 pic.twitter.com/xDOh0T592T- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 19, 2021
Durant missed his third straight game with a strained left hamstring.
Kyrie Irving added 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Nets make it five wins in a row, improving to 4-0 on their five-game West Coast road trip. The Nets have won four straight road games for the first time since December 2008.
LeBron James led the Lakers with 32 points, who were without their second and third-leading scorers in Anthony Davis (Achilles) and Dennis Schroder (health and safety protocols).
Who said the Nets can't play defence?
In a game where they led by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter, it was their effort on the defensive end that made the difference.
They held the Lakers to under 30 points in each quarter and limited them to just 8-of-30 from the 3-point line, with their adjustments and communication noticeably improving on this road trip, much to the delight of head coach Steve Nash.
"It's a non-negotiable if we want to reach our best level," Nash said of their defence post-game.
"We have to buy in, we have to understand what we're trying to do and what our principles are, make clean reads and decisions and play together down there.
"Guys have improved, turned a corner, however you want to put it, at the defensive end, we're at least now cleaner with our decision-making, our connections with one another and are starting to have little stretches in the game where our defence is strong."
In a statement win against the defending champs on the road, the Nets improve to 10-1 against teams above .500 and 8-1 against teams in the top-five in both conferences.
The Nets improve to 10-1 against teams currently over .500 this season, the best record in the NBA.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 19, 2021
The Lakers drop to 4-7 in those games. pic.twitter.com/vaJPtIihaY
Harris and the bench step up
With Kevin Durant sidelined and Kyrie Irving struggling to get buckets, Joe Harris provided an offensive punch for the Nets, draining 6-of-7 from the 3-point line for his 21 points.
Harris is enjoying a productive season in Brooklyn and is on pace to become the first player in NBA history to shoot over 50 percent from the field and 3-point line in a season (min five 3PA per game), per StatMuse.
You love to see it pic.twitter.com/xZvijX2fys- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 19, 2021
"Playing with those guys makes the game a lot easier," Harris said in his postgame TV interview. "We have a lot of actions where these guys are the first action but the second is me coming off a pin down or a flare.
"We've definitely improved here of late in this win streak, and a lot of it is on the defensive end. … It makes the offensive stuff come a lot easier."
The Nets shot 18-of-39 from deep in the win, with Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot shooting 5-of-8 on the night for his 15 points. He led the Nets' second unit which outscored the Lakers reserves 35-31 with Landry Shamet adding 10 points and DeAndre Jordan seven points and eight rebounds
LeBron joins 35k club
LeBron James added to his already stellar resume, becoming just the third player in NBA history to reach 35, 000 career points, with a free-throw late in the second quarter
He now trails only Karl Malone (36,928 points) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points) on the all-time scoring list.
LBJ throwing it DOWN 😳 pic.twitter.com/QHWq54IPzb- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 19, 2021
He turned in a strong performance, leading the Lakers with 32 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, marking his 30th straight game with at least 15 points, five rebounds and five assists, tying his own NBA record (2018) he shares with Oscar Robertson (1964).
With this free throw, LeBron James becomes the 3rd player in NBA history to reach 35,000 career points, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone!- NBA (@NBA) February 19, 2021
Watch on TNT pic.twitter.com/UWaz1fnqFn
Kyle Kuzma was the only other Lakers starter in double figures with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Montrezl Harrell chipped in 10 points off the bench.
The Lakers are back in action on Saturday (ET) in a Finals rematch against the Miami Heat at STAPLES Center, while the Nets will look to extend their win streak to six games when they visit the LA Clippers on Sunday (ET).
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