Brooklyn’s offensive ceiling might be the highest in the league. The Nets flashed that potential on Monday night, raining down a franchise-record 27 made 3-pointers on the Sacramento Kings in a 136-125 road victory.
That was without Kevin Durant. The superstar forward, who has lived up to the billing despite a fresh return from a torn Achilles tendon, did not play Monday due to a “mild” hamstring strain.
James Harden and Kyrie Irving easily shouldered the offense in Durant’s absence. Harden was at his all-around best, finishing with a triple-double of 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 14 assists. Irving took on primary scoring duties, pouring in 40 points at an absurd 68.2% shooting clip (including 9-for-11 from 3).
The amount of attention drawn by Brooklyn’s star backcourt made it that much easier for everyone else. Nets not named Harden or Irving shot a combined 12-for-26 from distance, making for a 27-for-47 showing overall (57.4%)
The long-distance barrage even sparked the Kings’ social media team to jokingly propose a mid-game removal of the 3-point line.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) February 16, 2021
The 27 total 3s ties the Harden-led 2018-19 Houston Rockets for third-most in a game all-time, trailing this season’s Rockets (Feb. 1) and Milwaukee Bucks (Dec. 29).
The league’s general surge in scoring is well-suited for the Nets, and not just their star players. Brooklyn’s coaching staff is highlighted by Steve Nash, Mike D’Antoni, and Amar’e Stoudemire, who headlined the pace-changing Phoenix Suns of the mid-2000s The Nets’ early-season trade for Harden, whom D’Antoni coached for years in Houston, only amplified the team’s already considerable firepower.
Brooklyn hopes its new identity will produce the franchise’s first championship since its ABA days in the mid-1970s. Since the 1976 merger, the Nets have never made it past the second round of the playoffs outside a pair of back-to-back Finals appearances in 2002 and 2003.
Monday’s win pushed Brooklyn into a virutal tie with Milwaukee for second place in the Eastern Conference, less than two games back of first-place Philadelphia.