Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn has talked a lot about not wanting to overuse Kevin Durant, but on Wednesday the Brooklyn superstar showed why he is heavily relied on.
Durant put up 29 points, including a handful of crucial baskets late after the Charlotte Hornets erased an 18-point Nets halftime lead, in a 122-116 win over the Hornets on Wednesday at Barclays Center. Kyrie Irving finished with a game-high 33 points on 14-of-24 shooting and Seth Curry had 20 off the bench.
Brooklyn had spent most of the first half controlling the game and had built a double-digit lead going into the halftime break. But the Hornets chipped away at the lead forcing the Nets superstar to come up with much-needed baskets late in the game.
“That’s a well-coached team that will continue to fight back. We relaxed a little bit and kind of paid for it,” Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Good thing we have some pretty good players to execute at the end of the game, which we did for the most part. Love that piece of it, but we just get too comfortable and let them start to get where they want to, to the rim, to the paint too many times.”
The Hornets ended the third quarter on a 10-2 run after the Nets allowed Charlotte to hang around for most of the 12-minute period. Charlotte shot 57% from three-point range in the third and 50% from the field, while the Nets’ shooting sat at 45.5% after shooting around 60% through the first half.
Nic Claxton missed a pair of free throws with the Brooklyn advantage shrunk to just two with 5:18 left in the fourth, but he made up for it on the other end of the court immediately after. A driving layup by Terry Rozie was blocked by the Brooklyn big man and Kevin Durant charged the other way to knock down a pull-up jumper to keep the Nets in front with 4:34 left in the game.
Durant came through with another jumper with just over three minutes to play after Kelly Oubre knocked down a three to make it a 113-112 game. Durant came out of the Brooklyn timeout and hit a 22-foot shot to give Brooklyn a three-point advantage and then did it again moments later with the lead down to just one again.
Durant drained a deep three with 1:47 left to push the lead to 118-114.
“I know we got high expectations for us, especially when we have players,” Durant said. ” I Know we should have kept the lead, but you still gotta respect them as NBA players. But I liked our intensity.”
The Brooklyn win moved their record during the seven-game homestand to 5-1 with the final game of the stretch coming on Friday against the Atlanta Hawks. Brooklyn is now 14-12 on the season as well.
Curry continued to trend in the right direction with an 8-of-11 shooting night and 3-of-6 from three-point range. Nic Claxton had 14 points along with seven assists and three blocks, while Edmond Sumner finished the game with nine points and Joe Harris had eight.
Brooklyn shot 57% from the field, but just 38.7% from beyond the arc.
Brooklyn had led 73-55 at the end of 24 minutes of play, with the 73 points being the most points tallied by the Nets in any half this season. The 18-point lead had also been their third-largest halftime lead of the season.