Nets 125, Warriors 99: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant Lead Brooklyn's Season-Opening Win

Worth the wait.

The premiere of the Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving tandem was everything the Brooklyn Nets envisioned 18 months ago when the All-NBA stars chose Brooklyn for their team-up. With Irving and Durant leading the way, the Nets opened the NBA season by blitzing the Golden State Warriors for a 125-99 win at Barclays Center.

“I think it’s been a long time coming and I’m grateful that we could let our games do the talking, but I’m also grateful that we can have relationships here that matter on the court that help us off the court,” said Irving. “And that was something that I had with KD that I have with other guys on the team as well. It’s just more or less our synergy off the floor and now playing on the floor has made a difference. We spent a lot of time together, we’ve just gone through challenging times, and we’re able to put on this uniform as a team together, while understanding that the more we stay collective as a group, the better we’ll be in the long run. We don’t want to let anything disrupt what we’ve got going on. It’s as simple. It’s a championship. So we’ve got to enjoy this regular season like I said, but we’re just gonna enjoy every step of the journey as well, too.”

The short, two-game preseason schedule offered a strong hint that Brooklyn’s combination of Durant and Irving with a deep group of scoring options would be an offensive force, and when it counted for real on Tuesday night, they made it look easy.

Brooklyn built a double-digit lead before the game was five minutes old and things just escalated from there. They were up by 21 in the second quarter and 35 at the end of the third, crossing the 100-point threshold in the opening minutes of the fourth.

Durant and Irving were done for the night by then, having done all that was needed in 25 minutes each.

“I just think we came out with a good plan on the defensive side of the ball which ignited us on the offensive end,” said Durant of the first-quarter blitz. “I know everybody's excited about this new era of the Nets but as players we just try and take it a day at a time and focus on our jobs individually and try and bring them to the group as best as we can and I think everybody did a solid job of that tonight.”

Irving scored 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and chipped in four rebounds and four assists. Durant had 22 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

When they were off the floor, Caris LeVert took charge on the way to a 20-point night with nine rebounds and five assists. Joe Harris had 10 points and seven rebounds, and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 11 boards.

Brooklyn finished up shooting 45.7 percent overall and 42.9 percent from 3-point range. They got to the line for 32 free throws, and shot 81.2 percent.

“I’d be lying to say we’re not blessed with a lot of great offensive players, and depth, a lot of shooting,” said Nets coach Steve Nash. "So we should be able to score the ball; that shouldn’t be a problem. But we’ve just got to continue to refine it, be efficient. As the season goes on teams are going to get better. It’s been a very short training camp, there were a lot of people coming into camp not in their best condition and then all the different things that go into this – this season in a pandemic – is going to allow teams, is going to show teams are little bit behind where we normally would be. So as teams get better, ourselves included, and tighten up we’re going to be more efficient. And that’s all I’m saying, that we’ve got a lot of work to do there as well, but we have talent and we can score. But that’s not...we don’t rest on our laurels with that.”

Meanwhile, the Nets limited Golden State to just 37.4 percent shooting, including 30.3 percent from 3-point range.

“We can take a little bit of credit, but some of it is make or miss,” said Nash. “Some nights they go in, some nights they don’t. Wiggins had some open looks he didn’t make. I thought our defense was solid overall and a step in the right direction, but I don’t want us to take too much credit for some of the shooting nights they had. A different night, they might knock some of those down and it looks a little different. But overall it was really solid. Not a ton of mistakes. Really diligent with our principles and game plan. So, was proud of them.”

The Nets were up 63-45 at halftime after leading by as many as 21 points in the first half.

Durant fueled the fast start, scoring 10 points in the first five minutes while making four of his first six shots and putting Brooklyn up 18-8.

In the final minutes of the quarter, the Nets came out of a timeout with a lightning-quick 10-0 run that featured back-to-back 3-pointers from LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie before two Jarrett Allen free throws put them up 38-17. Late threes from Golden State’s Marquese Chriss and Stephen Curry cut the Brooklyn lead to 40-25 going into the second quarter.

Irving picked up the hot hand from Durant, finishing the first quarter with 17 points while shooting 6-of-8 and making three of his first four 3-pointers. By halftime he had 24 on 9-of-13 shooting, and 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

But with the second unit on the floor at the start of the second quarter, it was LeVert’s turn. He had 12 in the first half with a pair of 3-pointers and kept Brooklyn up by 20 midway through the quarter.

Finally, Irving drained a deep 3-pointer in the final seconds of the half to send Brooklyn into the break up by 18.

Then they put things out of reach with a 17-4 run to open the second half, capped by a Dinwiddie 3-pointer for an 80-49 lead four minutes into the half. They stretched that lead to 35 points in the final minutes of the quarter before taking a 99-71 lead into the fourth.