Kevin Durant scored a team-high 31 points as the new-look Brooklyn Nets solved some of their defensive woes on Saturday to hold on and beat the shorthanded Miami Heat 128-124.
Since putting together the dynamic trio of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, the Nets have had no trouble showcasing their offence but have struggled at the other end of the court.
Irving finished with 28 points, and Harden was held to just 12 but dished out 11 assists, as Brooklyn halted a modest two-game losing streak.
“It’s not every day you see this collection of guys playing together in NBA history, so we want to take full advantage of that,” Irving said.
Brooklyn has now allowed 396 points in their last three games including back-to-back losses to the Cavaliers, including an 147-135 double overtime defeat on Wednesday. Durant returned to the line-up against the Heat after sitting out Friday’s 125-113 loss to Cleveland.
Irving scored 18 of his 28 in the fourth quarter on Saturday, including 10 in the final three minutes.
“All three of those guys, they’re just so damn skilled. Off the dribble, their shooting ability, their ability to see open players, and that’s why they’re three of the best in this business,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “And those are shots that only great players can manufacture.”
Joe Harris added 23 points and tied a career-high with seven three-pointers in the win.
Bam Adebayo finished with 41 points and nine assists to lead the Heat, who rallied from a 14 point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to give the Nets a run for their money down the stretch at Barclays Center arena in New York.
The Heat’s performance was impressive considering they were missing key starters, including last season’s playoff hero Jimmy Butler, who is out because of Covid-19 health protocols.
Besides Butler, the Heat were without Avery Bradley (Covid-19 protocols) and Tyler Herro (neck spasms). Herro has missed the last four games and did not make the trip for the two-game series.
Curry three-pointer milestone
Elsewhere, the Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry surpassed Hall of Famer Reggie Miller for second-most three-pointers in NBA history, reaching the milestone early in the third quarter of Saturday’s 127-108 loss to the Utah Jazz.
Curry finished with 24 points and five three-pointers, and now has 2,562 threes in his career. He is now 411 three-pointers behind Ray Allen (2,973) for the most in NBA history.
Asked what it felt like to pass Miller, Curry said: “It is special. I tried to enjoy it in the middle of the game because I knew it was on the horizon. I looked up to him growing up. I emulated a lot of things he did.”
The record-breaking three came on his first basket of the second half. Curry drove into the lane, passed the ball out to Draymond Green on the wing, shifted to the corner and nailed the shot off a quick feed from Green.
Donovan Mitchell led a balanced and explosive offensive for the red-hot Jazz with 23 points, and seven rebounds in 27 minutes of playing time.
Lakers perfect 9-0 on road
In Chicago, Anthony Davis scored a team-high 37 points and the Los Angeles Lakers improved to a perfect 9-0 on the road to start the season with a 101-90 win over the Chicago Bulls.
LeBron James delivered a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who won for the seventh time in the past eight games.
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Chicago had their three-game win streak snapped with the loss.
Coby White had 14 points, while Patrick Williams (13) and Lauri Markkanen (12) also scored in double digits.
In Arizona, Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 22 rebounds, and Canada’s Jamal Murray scored 26, as the Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 120-112 in double overtime.