OKLAHOMA CITY — Even with the NBA’s second-leading scorer sitting out, the Brooklyn Nets matched a franchise report Friday for probably the most factors in a regulation sport, dropping 147 on the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder in a 22-point win.
“We’re getting there. … We’re slowly inching ahead on each ends of the ground,” coach Steve Nash mentioned. “We struggled defensively at occasions, however we’re getting extra strong with our sport plan defensively. Offensively, you are beginning to see just a little extra circulate. You are seeing James [Harden] capable of handle the sport like that and manipulate the protection.”
By quarter, the Nets scored 36, 40, 39 and 32, constructing an early lead and persistently scoring all through the sport. They shot 57% from the sector, hit 19 3-pointers and had 33 crew assists.
“We’re catching a rhythm, clearly, offensively,” Harden mentioned. “However defensively as effectively. We’re studying our strengths and our weak point and issues we are able to get higher at.”
The Nets’ offensive explosion has been steadily constructing, with 10 of their previous 11 video games that includes a minimum of 110 factors. However they’ve additionally been, to place it kindly, mediocre on the defensive finish. The Thunder, who entered the sport final in offensive effectivity, nonetheless put up 125 factors whereas taking pictures 46.5% from the ground.
“There is a familiarity rising, on each ends of the ground. [But] we have got an extended method to go defensively,” Nash mentioned. “It is not our forte or sturdy swimsuit, however we have got to be clear with our sport plan and speaking and taking part in our actions.”
Harden and Irving spent varied components of the sport orchestrating solo as Nash staggered their minutes. However there have been additionally lengthy stretches wherein they performed off each other, with Harden doing his ordinary isolation drive-and-kick factor, whereas Irving flashed his ending capacity within the paint.
“I am at all times gonna say I will not take any day without any consideration. This does not occur typically in historical past the place you will have this group collectively at this level,” Irving mentioned. “A number of the guys have been starters on their respective groups final yr; among the guys are MVP candidates. And to have all of that collective expertise and never get probably the most of it, we might be doing ourselves a disservice. So we simply wish to proceed to push one another and maintain one another accountable.”
Harden credited the general communication enhancing among the many group, with assignments, coverages and changes being known as out clearly all through the sport. Irving and Harden have been on the entrance of the scoring, however there was spectacular stability to the sport as effectively, with 9 gamers whole ending in double figures.
“It is very satisfying anytime you get a win, however anytime the entire crew performs effectively and also you do some nice issues as a collective group, it undoubtedly stands out of the remaining,” Irving mentioned.
The Nets have received 4 straight and are 6-2 since making the commerce for Harden. There have been some tough spots at occasions, with Harden going prolonged stretches much less concerned within the offense, or Irving’s effectivity dipping, however the chemistry has been constructing, Nash mentioned, and is one thing he solely expects to enhance.
“Offensively, I believe guys are getting a really feel and a rhythm for each other, how guys wish to play, the place they just like the ball, how they like to maneuver, lower and play off one another,” he mentioned.
Harden mentioned the Nets are sustaining an eye fixed on the method, noting that it is solely going to get more durable because the season progresses. Because the video games get larger and the season will get smaller, there shall be extra of a highlight on the Nets’ chemistry and the way they execute.
“We’re gonna be challenged each night time; we will get everyone’s finest shot,” Irving mentioned, “however what we’re doing now could be simply discovering the continuity to make the most of the strengths we’ve.”