The Brooklyn Nets took off for California with the NBA’s No. 3 offense, and came back five games later ranked No. 1, tipping off a three-game home stretch against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.
The Nets are up to 117.8 points per 100 possessions after scoring at a 125.1 rate while going 5-0. They’re also first in the league in field goal percentage (50.1), second in 3-point percentage (40.5), and first in effective field goal percentage (58.7).
James Harden averaged 29.2 points, 11.8 assists, and 8.8 rebounds on the trip, shooting 54.9 percent overall and 51.1 percent from 3-point range, and Kyrie Irving averaged 26.8 points. Joe Harris shot 58.3 percent overall and 56.3 percent from 3-point range while averaging 16.2 points.
The Nets also got 11.0 points per game on 52.5-percent shooting from Jeff Green. Bruce Brown had 18 points against the Warriors and 13 against the Clippers. Tyler Johnson had 17 in Phoenix as the Nets came back from a 24-point deficit. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot made 5-of-8 3-pointes while scoring 15 points against the Lakers.
“That's what we're going to need for longevity,” said Harden. “It's going to be different guys that impact games for the regular season and in the post season. We want to build confidence. We want everybody playing well and know what they're doing on the court and you know, give credit to every individual player and because we focus, and we watch film and we understand what is going on and what the opposing team is trying to do. So, when guys check into games, when our bench checks into games, we know what we're doing and there's no let ups and that is key to games. Instead of coming in, making mental mistakes and mistakes where you give teams confidence to get back in the game, our guys are locked in on both ends of the ball and we're playing smart, we're not turning the basketball over, we're helping each other rebound and that's a key to our success. “
Kevin Durant will be out with a hamstring strain on Tuesday for the fifth straight game. Tyler Johnson and Iman Shumpert, who were both out on Sunday, are listed as probable. Shumpert, who signed with Brooklyn on Jan. 30, has been out with a hamstring strain and has yet to appear in a game.
Jeff Green (right shoulder contusion) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (right hip contusion), both of whom left Sunday’s game, are listed as questionable.
HARDEN NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK
James Harden was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday for the second time as a Net. It was Harden’s 26th Player of the Week award for his career.
In four Nets wins, Harden averaged 31.8 points, 10.8 assists, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in 37.4 minutes per game. He shot 55.0 percent overall, 48.6 percent from 3-point range, and 80.8 percent from the free throw line. Harden recorded four double-doubles, including one triple-double.
NIC CLAXTON’S RETURN
For the first time this season, Nic Claxton was listed as available before Sunday’s game against the Clippers. Claxton had been out since the beginning of the year with right knee tendinopathy. The 6-foot-11 forward/center played 15 games for Brooklyn last season as a rookie, plus nine games for Long Island in the G League, where he averaged 16.7 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 65.9 percent in 21.2 minutes per game.
“He’s played very little basketball in almost 20 months since he was drafted,” said Steve Nash before Sunday’s game against the Clippers. “The No. 1 thing is to protect his health, but he is cleared to play. I think it would take a unique circumstance for him to play (tonight), but it’s not out of the question. I think big picture in and hopefully in the short term to some capacity, he’s a versatile big who is pretty good with the ball, can dribble handoffs and pick and roll and catching in the half roll, making plays or finishing around the rim and hopefully his length and activity can be a factor defensively, but he’s still a developing player. He’s still a young guy who’s trying to, one, get his body to a place where it can withstand the demands of the NBA, and then, two, as a young player, get up to speed with his maturation process and adapting to the NBA and how to read and react and play at this level. He’s lost a lot of time, but he’s still got a long and bright future.”
FANS RETURN TO BARCLAYS CENTER
For the first time this season, a limited number of fans will be allowed into Barclays Center on Tuesday when the Nets play the Kings. The Nets have played in front of some fans in road games this season, but this will be the first time at Barclays Center since last March.
“Inviting some fans back in, I feel like it does great things for the league,” said Kyrie Irving. “It does great things for us in terms of motivation. They're a big part that makes this whole engine run, but besides our fans, we have an opportunity to set a mark in history as making sure we take the right safety precautions, making sure that we're standing on the right thing such as truth, giving people the right information.
“It's all about the collective. We understand the position that we're in as NBA players or as entertainers in modern-day society, but we're humans at the end of the day and we feel for everybody at home. So if fans get a chance to see us play, I want to make sure I put on a show for them, and then go out and continue to change the world the best way I know how with other people who want to do the same. So I'm excited. See what happens. I just pray everyone stays safe, making sure you wear your mask, making sure you wash your hands, making sure you're taking all the precautions, and let's make sure we handle this together.”
ABOUT THE KINGS
The Kings have fallen to 12-18 after losing their last seven games, including a 136-125 loss to the Nets last week. Sacramento is 11th in the league in offensive rating (112.3), but last in the league in defensive rating (118.0). De’Aaron Fox leads the Kings with 22.3 points and 7.1 assists per game.