It wasn’t pretty, but the Brooklyn Nets hung on. Whew!
For only the sixth time in franchise history, the Brooklyn Nets have won 10 straight games after the 108-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. The current winning streak is the longest winning streak in the league at any point this season. Brooklyn is also 17-3 in their last 20 games, which matches the best 20-game stretch at any point in Nets history. After going a league-best 11-1 in the month of December, Brooklyn is also just two games behind the Boston Celtics (one in the loss column) and the second seed in the East. And on and on.
“[Winning 10 in a row] sounds good, especially since there’s just been an up and down vibe with our team the past few years,” KD said postgame. “So it’s good to win a game and have some fun.”
Kyrie Irving led the charge with 28 points on the night, 15 of which came in the fourth. He continued his hot shooting, going 5-of-11 from deep. At points, he wasn’t just in another frame of reference. He was in another world.
“For me specifically, when the fourth quarter hits, it’s winning time,” said Irving after the game. “That’s all I really know.”
Irving’s 8.8 points in the fourth lead in the NBA, and he averaged 14.6 in the final frame in Brooklyn’s last 5 games. Here are some highlights of Irving’s extraterrestrial fourth-quarter showing against the Hawks.
Kevin Durant, meanwhile, had 26 points on 47.1% shooting. He filled in for the Nets in other ways, too, grabbing 16 rebounds, a high for him as a Net and his most rebounds in a game in six years (he grabbed 17 boards as a Warrior against the Toronto Raptors in 2016).
“To be honest, I think my teammates did a great job boxing out,” Durant said postgame in discussing his 16 boards. “And I was just reaping the benefits of that.”
Nic Claxton also had a solid showing, putting up 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting and 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season, which is a team-high. Clax also had 6 blocks, which ties a career-high for the fourth-year center.
“We lean on Nic a lot and he produces for us and continues to,” said Jacque Vaughn. “And we need him and we love him. And we’re going to continue to ask him to do everything for us: Block shots, rebound, run the floor, play perimeter guy, play post guys.”
Atlanta was led by John Collins, who dropped 21 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, and Dejounte Murray, who nearly had a triple-double with 24 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds.
The first quarter began with a plethora of highlights; a ferocious ankle breaker from Irving against Aaron Holiday that led to a 3-pointer; a pair of highlight alley-oop dunks from Claxton and gorgeous pick-and-roll passes from Kevin Durant. Yet, with the Hawks starting off sizzling hot on the home floor—66.7% from three—Brooklyn ended the first by just a hair, 31-30.
The second quarter started off poorly for Brooklyn when Jacque Vaughn put in a lineup of Seth Curry, Patty Mills, Yuta Watanabe, TJ Warren, and Ben Simmons. The small backcourt of Curry and Mills hemorrhaged points and playing without either Durant or Irving torpedoed the offense. Atlanta quickly went on a 17-5 run. Although Brooklyn went on an 8-0 run late in the quarter, the Hawks finished the half up 63-56.
Brooklyn closed the gap quickly in the third quarter with a 10-4 run. At the 0:55-mark, Yuta Watanabe hit a layup through a sea of arms to give Brooklyn its first lead since early in the second quarter. After holding Atlanta to just 17 points in the quarter, the Nets entered the fourth up 83-80.
“The urgency that was shown in the third quarter was pretty impressive. We weren’t satisfied with the way we played the first half. And that group in the third quarter, they only gave up 17 points,” said Vaughn. “We talked about taking pride in guarding the basketball and whoever is in front of you, being able to guard him and take that challenge on and just lean into competing.”
For the second straight game, Irving caught fire to start the fourth. He nailed a long two, a 3-pointer, and then canned a transition three all the way from Savannah to give Brooklyn its first double-digit lead. The Hawks responded, going on their own 10-0 run midway through the fourth to close the gap behind shotmaking from Okongwu and Murray.
Kyrie decided to take things into his own hands once more, dropping seven more points in two minutes. Atlanta, however, stayed close after a 3-pointer from Bogdan Bogdanovic and a three from Aaron Holiday in transition to tie the game at 104 apiece at the 1:48 mark in the fourth. Durant then hit a pair of short-range jumpers after driving to his left, and so Atlanta began to throw double-teams at him, which resulted in the Nets going scoreless the rest of the way. Fortunately, Dejounte Murray missed a near-halfcourt heave at the final buzzer and the Nets hung and won by a single point.
- Nets extended their season-best win streak to 10 games with tonight’s win at Atlanta:
–Sixth win streak of 10+ games in franchise history (first since 2006). The streak is now the fourth longest in franchise history. A win Saturday would make it the third longest streak.
– Longest winning streak in the league this season.
– The Nets have their 14th win in their last 15 games.
- The Nets are 17-3 in their last 20 games, matching the best 20-game stretch at any point in a season in franchise history. Brooklyn has also won six straight road games, tied for the longest road win streak in the league this season.
- Nic Claxton (17 points, 10 rebounds, career-high-tying six blocks) recorded his team-high 10th double-double of the season. Claxton has now doubled his double-double total from his first three NBA seasons combined (five).
Joe Jesus on hand
Joe Johnson, future Hall of Famer and fan favorite wherever he played, was courtside to watch the Hawks and Nets.
Johnson played seven seasons for Atlanta, four for Brooklyn. No word on who he was rooting for, but he was wearing black and white.
Joe Harris status
Brian Lewis reports Joe Harris remains in Brooklyn getting treatment for his sore knee. It’s unclear if he’ll fly to join the Nets for a practice Friday in Atlanta, join them in Charlotte to play the Hornets on New Year’s Eve, or miss the entire rest of the trip. An MRI on his knee proved negative.
Brooklyn heads to Charlotte on Saturday — New Year’s Eve — for its final game of the four-game road trip. Coverage of the game against the Hornets begins at 7 PM EST on the YES Network.
For a different perspective on tonight’s game, head to Peachtree Hoopsour Hawks sister site.