With the Nets in dire need of a win, the NBA planners delivered the terrible Houston Rockets. And Brooklyn didn’t waste the gift.
After wasting a huge effort from Kevin Durant last time out in Atlanta, Kyrie Irving played like the All-Star he is Tuesday this time and led the Nets to an authoritative 118-105 win in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,768 .
Irving had 42 points and six assists and came out of his mini slump at the best possible time. Attacking the rim, he attacked the Rockets and lifted the Nets (41-38) to within two games of seventh-ranked Cleveland after the Cavaliers lost to Orlando.
The Nets climbed to eighth in the East thanks to the season series tiebreak from ninth-place Atlanta and a game ahead of Charlotte.
With just three games left — on Knicks Wednesday, Cleveland Friday and Indiana Sunday — each is critical to play-in positioning. And those prospects brightened just a little on Tuesday — though for his part, Irving tried to manage expectations and soften title talks.
“We’ll see, man,” Irving said. “Right now you can’t predict the future. Every time I try, God has a way of humbling me. So I’m just going to take it one day at a time, like I’ve been saying all season, and game by game.
“I can’t even think about if we’re going to win all four games, if we’re going 3-1, 2(2) and who are we playing against? I can’t even think like that. I’m just looking forward to it [playing]to be on the home floor and put on a show.
Durant had 18 points, Bruce Brown had 15, and Cam Thomas had 13.
“The guys have a great attitude towards what they want to do,” said Andre Drummond. “We have a great vision of what this team can be with so little time, so I think with us we’re just excited to be here, excited to make something special happen. And we have the tools to do it.”
Irving – who had shot just 36.2 percent in his last five games – had 11 quick points to put the Nets right out of the gate for a 25-18 lead.
And even after they fell asleep and let the Rockets climb back in – a running dunk from Jalen Green (30 points) who tied it at 32 – all at 10:13 in the half – they had no problem with Houston.
The Nets responded by reeling off 10 unanswered points, highlighted by a sequence in which they — with a big frontcourt of underused LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Claxton and Durant playing together — crashed the boards for four straight offensive rebounds , topped by a technical and Irving’s free throw.
That made it 39-32, and Brown’s 3 on ensuing possession padded the cushion into double figures.
The Nets went into the dressing room 64-47 thanks to 22 points from Irving. It was their biggest halftime lead at home since Jan. 15 against the Pelicans after keeping the Rockets at 37.7 percent shooting and 4-of-22 from deep.
The Nets kept Houston at bay for the rest of the night. Kevin Porter Jr. (36 points) drew the Rockets to 90-84, but no closer when Irving stemmed the tide with a midrange jumper and improved defense.
After a lack of discipline in Atlanta, the Nets held the Rockets to 11 of 43 from 3 without reaching and fouling.
“We classified it as a lack of discipline. We just took a step back towards paying attention, focusing on understanding trends, scenarios and situations,” said Steve Nash. “It happens. It’s highlighted when it’s at the end of the year and we’re trying to fight for seeding. But that’s the kind of slip-up that happens to every team at different points in the season. We’re on the clock right now.
“So all these things are highlighted and magnified a little bit. So, just play again without fouling. It’s really gone up lately. … We don’t have to overreact, let’s just keep building every day, getting better. Let’s go back to guarding without fouling and playing a great game.”
It wasn’t great. But it was enough.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/05/kyrie-irving-pours-in-42-points-to-propel-nets-past-rockets/ Kyrie Irving pours in 42 points to propel Nets past Rockets