It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or by a mile, winning is winning. The Brooklyn Nets channeled their inner Dominic Toretto with a 108-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks that might be better described as “not losing” as opposed to outright winning.
The result counts the same either way.
Brooklyn has now won an NBA-best 10 games in a row with their victories coming by margins as large as 30 points and as narrow as Wednesday’s margin.
“I felt like we didn’t have an identity to start the season,” Kevin Durant said after the game. And then we started to figure it out…last month or so starting to move. We figuring out our identity as a team and you walk into every game believing that, alright, if we stick to this template and to this structure that we have we’ll be fine regardless of what goes on in the game.”
Durant: Nets ‘Didn’t Have An Identity’
Durant finished with 26 points, a season-high 16 rebounds, eight assists, and two blocks against the Hawks scoring 11 of his points in the first quarter to stake the Nets to a one-point lead after the first 12 minutes of the game.
This run has been highlighted by next-level play from the 12-time All-Star.
He is averaging 30.9 points on 71.3% true shooting with 7.3 boards, 5.3 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game over the Nets’ extended run that has seen them win 15 of their last 16 outings.
“First off, it’s a group effort everybody has to bring it in order for us to be a good team, said Durant. “I think we got to execute on the small parts of the game, the details part of the game that’s gone help us get better…It’s a lot of stuff we went over the last few weeks in order for us to kind of figure out what type of team we want to be.”
Durant led by example in this one.
He chased down a loose ball in the third quarter, deflecting it off of Hawks rookie AJ Griffin after he blocked a shot from Griffin’s teammate, Dejounte Murray.
“I was more fired up about I was able to save it,” Durant said smiling. The block was cool but being able to still recover the ball and get a possession, I think that was a fun part. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to make a dirty play like that. So it feels good to get my hands dirty a bit”
It’s not just him that benefits from those kinds of plays, either.
“It ignites our team, deflates their team a little bit,” he said. “It does a lot so, as much as I can, just make a play. Try to do it and change momentum a bit.”
It Starts Up Top
Durant stopped short of directly citing the switch from Steve Nash to Jacque Vaughn. But the move has been a major catalyst for the group which sports the NBA’s best record since he took over on November 1 at 21-7.
The Nets star did, however, point to the team’s faith in the new leader.
“Just knowing what we want to do every time that we step on the floor keeps our mind at ease and we’ll have that belief in whatever Jacque tells us.”
Brooklyn’s resolve will continue to be tested with just three of their next 11 games at home.
They cap their current three-game road trip with a matchup against the Charlotte Hornets but won’t get much time to enjoy the comforts of home. After a one-game respite against the San Antonio Spurs, they head back out for another three-game trip with dates against the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, and New Orleans Pelicans so they will continue to be tested.