Without leading scorer Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets (13-8) were able to outshine the Oklahoma City Thunder (8-10) 147-125 in the Chesapeake Energy Arena. This win for Brooklyn extended their winning steak to four, while pushing themselves up to second in the Eastern Conference. For Oklahoma City, this loss moved them into a two-way tie for the eleventh seed in the West.
The Brooklyn Nets displayed pristine levels of consistency throughout the entire game, shooting over the 50% mark in all four quarters of the contest. Their brand of basketball to amass large portions of points in bunches came from the top-to-bottom of their roster. Brooklyn netted nine players in double-figures by the final buzzer, leaving Oklahoma City under duress the majority of the night.
Since the opening tip, the Steve Nash led Nets focused their offense towards running through the stars. James Harden finished the night with 25 points (9-14 FG), 10 rebounds, and 11 assists, but he unloaded his ammunition early, scoring 10 first quarter points, and helped orchestrate a 15-0 run in the second quarter to open the Nets’ lead to 24 points. The second quarter gave way for guards Joe Harris and Kyrie Irving to tick their play up a notch, totaling 16 points between the two in the period. Joe Harris left most of his scoring duties in the second quarter, but still managed to drop 20 points (7-13 FG) in 33 minutes of play. Kyrie Irving on the other hand used the first half to rev up his engine. Kyrie Irving knocked 12 points in the third quarter alone, highlighting his 25 point (10-16 FG), 7 assist performance.
Brooklyn’s flurry of attacks were too much for the Thunder to handle as their smallest lead in the final half was 13. The team’s point spread was nothing short of masterful, shooting 19-45 (42%) on 3s, collecting 70 points in the paint, and converting on a barrage of mid-ranges, catered by Irving’s six mid-range pull-ups. The key contributor in the scoring outburst that was 147 points came from the team’s 10 and-one opportunities throughout the night, including a James Harden three.
Oklahoma City cracked solid numbers from the field, shooting in the high forties on field goals and 16-38 (42%) from deep, but their list of options was narrowed, listing just six players in double-figures. Rookie Theo Maledon was expected to give adequate usage in Friday’s game, starting for the injured George Hill (thumb), but he provided much more than that. The 19-year-old accumulated a 24 points (8-9 FG), 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in just 33 minutes. Not only was this Maledon’s coming-out party, breaking his previous career-high of 12, but he also elevated himself into the record books. Maledon’s perfect 6-6 shooting from downtown placed him in a two-way tie for best 3-point shooting performance in a game, tying Caron Butler’s 6-6 night from 2014. Not only did Theo’s marksmanship make franchise records, but it also moved into the league’s records, tying the league’s best three point outing from a rookie.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the key pairing for the rookie, piling up 24 points (7-10 FG), 4 rebounds, and 5 assists. SGA drew consistent double-team’s from the Nets leading to easy passes for the open look. Not only did this pressure open up the passing game, but also the charity stripe. Gilgeous-Alexander took 13 shots from the line (burying 10), being just 3 attempts shy of Brooklyn’s 16 they took as a team. Hamidou Diallo became the Thunder’s secret option off the bench, as he cashed in on 18 points (4-9 FG) going 9-9 from the line. Starters Al Horford, Darius Bazley, and Lu Dort capped the night off in double-digits, placing 16. 14. and 10 respectively, but the variety and consistency of shots were concerning. Al Horford did a superb job stretching out the floor (hitting 4 triples), but his 1-5 shooting inside allowed for the Nets to play small-ball with Jeff Green as opposed to the slower, non-shooter in Jordan. Lu Dort did an excellent job taking the role of Brooklyn’s stars on defense, but his 2-14 shooting (1-9 3pt) allowed for his defender to double SGA with little to no repercussions.
Oklahoma City will have the weekend off to regroup, squaring off against the Houston Rockets (8-9) at home on Monday and Wednesday.