They were down. Then they were down big. Then “The Beard,” with some key contributions from his supporting cast, brought them back.
With stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving sidelined due to injury, the James Harden-led Brooklyn Nets battled back from a huge deficit to earn a thrilling 128-124 win over the Suns in Phoenix on Tuesday.
At the heart of the history-making comeback effort was Harden, who had a pair of animated supporters in Durant and Irving as the game was winding down.
Durant, Irving Go Bonkers
The Nets hadn’t led since the first quarter, but Harden had a chance to change that with just over 30 seconds left and the Suns leading 124-123. Recognizing the two-for-one opportunity, Harden dribbled the ball up the floor and heaved a straightaway 3-pointer with 17 seconds left on the shot clock.
On the sideline, Durant reacted with an emphatic fist-pump before giving Irving a friendly shove — never mind the fact that Irving missed this one with lower-back soreness. In this instance, Durant’s over-excitement was entirely forgivable. Irving stumbled for a moment before gaining his balance, only to seamlessly transition into a dance near the far hoop.
Follow the Heavy on Nets Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content out of Brooklyn!
On the YES Network broadcast, color analyst and former Nets standout Richard Jefferson’s reaction also was priceless. An “oh my!” escaped Jefferson, along with multiple “woos!”
Joe Tsai, who in September 2019 became the owner of the Nets and chairman of Barclays Center, expressed his reaction via Twitter using only three words. Six exclamation points helped him get across the point, too.
Harden, meanwhile, weighed in about 90 minutes after the game.
Record-Setting Night for Brooklyn Nets
Tuesday’s win was the biggest halftime deficit a Nets team had ever overcome (21) and the second biggest comeback in team history (24).
Harden, who Brooklyn acquired from the Houston Rockets via four-team trade on January 14, finished with another dazzling stat line: 38 points (his most since joining the Nets), seven rebounds and 11 assists. The 31-year-old and 2018 NBA MVP shot 14-of-22 from the field, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range, and also went 5-of-5 from the line. He hit two free throws with 11 seconds left to help seal Brooklyn’s win.
Durant missed the game with a hamstring strain, and Irving was out with lower-back soreness. Both have a chance to suit up when the Nets next play the Lakers in Los Angeles in a highly anticipated matchup with LeBron James.
Brooklyn’s fourth straight win, meanwhile, snapped a six-game winning streak for the talented Suns. Afterward, Harden put the victory in context.
“The way we’re playing and the potential we have as a team is what I’m excited about,” Harden said, via SNY. “Coming to Phoenix and they’ve won six in a row, they’ve been playing with the ultimate confidence — and we’re down two of our best players. And we come away with a win being down (21) at half? It’s like, that’s exciting. We could have easily gave up. We were playing pretty well before this game. But we didn’t give up, and we won. So that’s exciting. Now we just got to continue to build. Hopefully we get KD and (Irving) back next game and just keep this train rolling until the (All-Star) break.”