By halftime Saturday, Brooklyn was down to one perennial All-Star among the three on its roster, but James Harden and a cast of high-performing, lesser-known role players were more than enough to beat slow-starting New Orleans. Despite Kevin Durant leaving Saturday’s game with a knee injury – he collided with teammate Bruce Brown – the Nets rolled to a 30-point edge prior to intermission and withstood intermittent second-half Pelicans runs in a convincing victory. New Orleans committed five turnovers in the first five minutes, helping Brooklyn build a fast double-digit margin.
“This is a good team,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said of the challenge of facing the Nets’ high-powered attack. “They can make shots. If you don’t force them to have to play through physicality, (and) if you don’t force them to take tough shots, it’s a long night for you.”
New Orleans dropped the first stop of a three-game Atlantic Division road trip that goes to Boston and New York on Monday and Thursday.
IT WAS OVER WHEN…
Willie Green removed his starters with just over two minutes remaining, after New Orleans tried to fight its way back into the hunt with a 36-26 third period and a few mini-runs in the fourth.
PELICANS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Brandon Ingram continued a stretch in which he’s been a handful for opposing defenses, depositing 20-plus points for a fifth straight game. Ingram has thrived after initially having two subpar games in his return from a hip injury. The Nets ran extra defenders at Ingram much of the night, so he handed out eight assists to go with his 22 points. Ingram notched nearly one-third of NOLA's points in the first half, keeping the offense afloat with 13 out of the club's 41.
BY THE NUMBERS
44-35: Nets rebounding advantage. Brooklyn was the rare opponent to hold a substantial upper hand vs. New Orleans on the backboards.
54.8: Brooklyn shooting percentage from the field. The starting backcourt of Harden and Patty Mills combined to go 16/28 on field goals and 11/12 at the foul line.
REVISITING FANDUEL KEYS TO THE GAME
Maybe New Orleans was due for an off shooting night after being on fire this week during wins over the Timberwolves and Clippers. The Pelicans shot 34 percent in the first half and only managed two fast-break points. They heated up in the second half but still ended up 9/31 from three-point range.
‘BIG TWO’ IN BARCLAYS
Brooklyn didn’t need Kyrie Irving to ring up 69 first-half points and dominate. Durant’s knee injury will be evaluated Sunday when he undergoes an MRI. Prior to him exiting Saturday’s game, he had already scored 12 points in his 12 minutes of action.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
New Orleans needed everyone to play well to win Saturday, but the reserves shot 11/27 from the field and were 3/13 on threes. Brooklyn received a nice lift from sub Cam Thomas, an LSU product who dropped in 20 points on 9/13 shooting.
Playing in his native New York City, Jose Alvarado generated a second victory of 2021-22 for Jim Eichenhofer by scoring seven points, 4.9 more than his season average. That barely edged Daniel Sallerson’s selection of Jaxson Hayes (11 points, 4.1 more than average) and the fans’ choice of Herbert Jones (13 points, 4.2 over average). Erin Summers tabbed Ingram, who had 22 points, almost exactly his season average of 22.9.
#SaturdayScorer standings: Erin 4, Jim 2, Daniel 1, Fans 0. Next Saturday game: Jan. 29 vs. Boston.