For nearly 20 years, the Nets have come up empty in San Antonio, so what’s a few extra minutes?
Brooklyn kept one streak going — winning its sixth straight on the road — while wiping out another, winning in San Antonio 124-113 in overtime on Tuesday night, their first road win against the Spurs since the 2003 NBA Finals. Their last regular season win in San Antonio had come a season earlier.
“Sometimes, nights like this take overtime and I think it’s been what, 19, 20 years since we got a win here? So another historical record out the window for our team, which I’m grateful to be a part of,” said Kyrie Irving. “It’s a great team accolade coming to San Antonio and just getting a win.”
It was the ninth win in 10 games for the Nets, now 23-13, and it looked like they had it sewn up in regulation, leading by 108-98 with two minutes to go. But the Spurs scored the final 10 points of regulation, with Dejounte Murray recovering the loose ball he had lost and rising to drain a 21-foot jumper at the buzzer to force overtime.
The Nets answered with the first eight points of overtime: an Irving 3-pointer, a James Harden drive, and a 3-pointer from Bruce Brown for a 116-108 lead. After San Antonio cut the Brooklyn lead to three with two minutes to go, Irving connected again for a 3-pointer and Brown dropped in a floater coming down the lane for a 121-113 lead. Harden followed with a 3-pointer with just over a minute to go.
“It was a great response,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “You miss a couple bunnies and they make a shot at the buzzer, you can fold. You can think it’s not our night. You could drop your head a little bit. You could come out and lack confidence, but we came out with confidence, made big shots, defended, rebounded, and took care of business in overtime, so great response from our guys after a disappointing last minute or so.”
For a bit of a historic win, Harden contributed a historic boxscore. His seventh triple-double as a Net included 30 points, 15 assists, and 14 rebounds, all with zero turnovers. It was the first such game — at least 30 points, 15 assists, and 10 rebounds — without a turnover since the 1977-78 season.
Harden also shot 13-for-22 and scored 20 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“Honestly, I just try to find ways to impact the game and not just scoring the basketball,” said Harden. “We have a number of guys that can put the ball in the basket. Defensively, rebounding the basketball because that's one of the areas where we need to improve at. And just being a distributor. Getting guys shots, getting guys easy buckets — I feel like it's my job. Just playing the game the right way and not forcing anything, trying to make the right play, trying to get guys shots and that's kind of my mindset every single game and it's been working.”
Taking advantage of Harden’s distributing was Nic Claxton. In his fourth game of the season, the second-year forward had a career-high with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting, plus three blocks and three rebounds. Claxton had a field day finishing lobs from Harden and Irving, particularly during his 13-point second quarter, and also put the ball on the deck to convert several drives to the rim.
“He was great,” said Nash. “His activity was outstanding; made a few mistakes, but so did everyone, and he showed some ability. He got fouls, blocked shots, steals, went to the basket, scored and made free throws, so really proud of his ballgame tonight. It was a big part of our own win and he’ll continue to get better.”
Irving had 27 points, seven assists and six rebounds, while Brown scored 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting. DeAndre Jordan had 12 rebounds, eight points, five assists, and three blocks.
Harden was happy to facilitate early. He had 10 assists by halftime alone, with the Nets notching 19 first-half assists on 22 field goals against just two turnovers. A 14-4 run had Brooklyn up 52-40 in the second quarter, only to have the Spurs rattle off nine straight points on a string of 3-pointers, leaving the Nets leading 57-54 at halftime.
They went into the fourth quarter tied at 81, and with the Spurs leading 84-83, the Nets seemed to break things open with a 14-2 run. San Antonio was back within six points with three minutes remaining, but Harden got down the lane for another floater and Jordan made pair of free throws for a 108-98 lead. Then came a 10-0 San Antonio run.
“One or two mistakes, but we also missed two layups, the game’s over,” said Nash. “The last play was funky too; the kid trips on the ball and is rolling around on it and I think our guys fanned out to 3-point shooters, because that’s the only way we can lose the game, and he stands up and makes the shot. Of course, you could say we made a mistake or two down the stretch. More importantly, if we had made a couple layups the game is over. Still plenty to build on, but lots of positives as well.”