Nets 122, Magic 115: James Harden Posts Triple-Double in Brooklyn Debut

Introductions don’t go much better than this.

James Harden turned in a triple-double in his debut for the Brooklyn Nets to team with Kevin Durant in leading the way to a 122-115 win over the Orlando Magic at Barclays Center.

Harden, a three-time scoring champ who also has an assist title to his credit, put it all on display two days after being acquired from Houston, putting up 32 points with 14 assists and 12 rebounds, the first 30-point triple-double in NBA history for a player making his debut with a new team.

“He stuffed the stat sheet,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “Wow, almost a quadruple-double. But I mean, obviously James is a brilliant basketball player and we got to incorporate them find a way to make this thing gel and put them in a position to do what he does, and for him to make each of our guys better. But he got to the line 15 times, he made threes, 12 rebounds, 14 assists, four steals. We know what he is: He's a world-class basketball player. So I will continue to build and get better and try to figure this out where everyone is a threat and we make each other better.”

Durant, meanwhile, has opened on a tear himself in his first season with Brooklyn, and this time went for a season-high 42 points while shooting 61.5 percent (16-of-26), including 5-of-8 from 3-point range, plus five assists and four rebounds. Joe Harris had 17 points and five rebounds.

This was Durant’s 10th game as a Net, and he’s scored 307 points so far, the second-most in NBA history for a player in his first 10 games with a new team behind Wilt Chamberlain, and also the most points in franchise history in a player’s first 10 games of the season.

“I’ve got a long ways to go, and I’ve got a good staff, teammates, training staff that puts me in position every day to go out there and be the best that I can be,” said Durant. “So it’s 10 games in, we’ve got 62 more — well, we’ve got more than that, I missed a few games. What we at? 13 games? 14 games? So we’ve got a long season ahead of us, and I just want to keep putting together some good days, good weeks, good months and see what happens.”

Brooklyn shot 53.8 percent overall and 45.7 percent from 3-point range, and really warmed up after halftime in shooting 61.5 percent overall and 62.5 percent from 3-point range in the second half. Early on, the shooting was shakier on the way to a 52-50 halftime lead for the Nets, but Harden opened up looking for the pass, with seven assists by halftime.

“Man, it was incredible,” said Durant of Harden’s Brooklyn debut. “You could see him trying to figure out the best way to play. Early on I felt like we were all overpassing. Trying to make everybody comfortable. And then he just got into his mode of being aggressive to score and that opened up the whole game for all of us. Glad he got his feet up under him and he's got to keep plugging away, keep getting better each day.”

Durant had 16 at the half and Harden had eight, and as they got rolling in the second half everybody found the basket better, including the Magic. Orlando matched the Nets through most of the third quarter, with both teams shooting at least 52 percent in the period.

With the Nets trailing 79-74, they scored seven straight to move into a lead. Durant sliced through the lane for a transition layup, Harden made 1-of-2 from the line and then 2-of-3, and then fed Landry Shamet for a transition layup. After Orlando tied the game at 81, Harden answered with a step-back 3-pointer for a lead the Nets never gave up after taking an 84-83 edge into the fourth quarter.

With a 10-3 run in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Durant and Harden, the Nets went up 96-88 with nine minutes remaining, having outscored Orlando 22-9 since late in the third quarter.

With the Magic back within three, Harden twice made a pair from the line, and Bruce Brown followed with a corner three for a 117-107 lead with 1:38 remaining as the Nets sealed their third straight win.

“I think everyone was excited,” said Nash. “Obviously you bring a player of James’ caliber and his excitement to be here and everyone was excited. You know, it’s been a fun few days, as far as the performance, my head is spinning, who did we play three nights ago, Denver? That was a fun evening. We played in New York, and had an excellent short-staffed game where we played excellent, guys moved the ball, played together and again, tonight, found a way to win. It’s been a fun few games for us, and we needed them, we needed to build, we needed some positive energy because we’ve had some difficult times this year as well. And obviously it’s fun when you see guys enjoying what they do.”