Things did not go as the Brooklyn Nets (29-18) hoped in a 137-133 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, their fifth in the wake of Kevin Durant’s sprained MCL. That’s as many losses in the last two weeks as they had in the previous two months with Durant healthy.
There were a few bright spots, though, with Kyrie Irving (30 points, 10 assists) and Nic Claxton (25 points, 11 rebounds) both notching double-doubles.
But the high-scorer for the night was Nets guard Seth Curry.
Curry had a game-high 32 points on 55% shooting from the floor knocking down 7-of-10 threes and chipping in four assists and a steal to just two turnovers on the night. After the game, Sixers head coach and Curry’s father-in-law Doc Rivers express some tongue-in-cheek disdain for the sharpshooting guard.
Doc Rivers ‘Wanted to Just Smack’ Seth Curry
“I wanted to just smack him,” Rivers said of Curry during his postgame availability. “I’m not kidding, either. I was going to go over and see my grandkids on Sunday. Now, I’m rethinking that now from that performance. He was great. I mean, he made every shot.”
Curry got off to a hot start with 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting in the first quarter alone. He added another 12 points in the second and third quarters combined but on worse efficiency – just 4-of-10 from the floor. The ninth-year man out of Duke got back on a heater in the final 12 minutes with another 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting including 2-of-3 threes.
The 32 points are a season-high for Curry besting his previous mark set against the Portland Trail Blazers in a 111-97 win on November 27 by three points.
“Just making plays, trying to be aggressive. Getting the ball in my hands a little bit playing some pick-and-roll, moving without the ball – teammates set me up a couple times. But just going out there, try to find good shots, and do what I do.
It’s also his sixth straight game in double-figures. Curry is averaging 16.8 points on 66.9% true shooting in that span which includes the six games the Nets have been without Durant as he rehabs his knee.
Rivers felt it was a natural explosion from a former player.
“That’s how players are when they come back to play the team they were playing for,” Rivers said. “No matter if it was a good trade or bad trade, they want to kill you,” Rivers said. “And he did that tonight. So I get that.”
Curry denied that there was any extra motivation behind his effort against the Sixers but did note the environment in Wells Fargo Center is “good” and that it was a big game.
Brooklyn has lost both meetings with Philadelphia this season but it is hard to blame Curry for it.
He has averaged 23 points on 67.3% true shooting with 3.0 assists, and 1.0 rebounds. It’s not just this season either with Curry putting up 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting in his lone meeting against his former team in March of last season after being traded to the Nets along with mercurial star Ben Simmons.
The Nets and Sixers will meet two more times in the regular season with the next tilt coming on February 11.
Bearing The Burden
Curry spoke about having to step up in Durant’s absence noting that it was on him and Irving to make plays for others.
“Obviously, me and Kyrie got to do a lot just creating offense for us,” Curry said via the Yes Network YouTube channel. “And Ben got to help us out. And Clax doing a good job making plays with the hand-offs and rolling. We got to just create offense in different ways. I mean just the load changes on guys like myself and try to be aggressive and see what happens. We got to just stick to it for 48-minute games…Different night everybody got to help us out in different ways.”
It’s a similar sentiment to what Irving has shared but also seems to resonate with everyone.
The results have been uneven so far but there is a long way to go. Unfortunately, there could also be a long way to go before they get Durant back in the fold. It will be interesting to see how long these messages of togetherness can hold if the slide continues.