Kyrie Irving, Nets Edge Julius Randle, Knicks as James Harden Exits with InjuryApril 6, 2021
The Brooklyn Nets bounced back from Sunday's loss with a 114-112 defeat of the New York Knicks on Monday.
The win, which was sealed by a pair of late free throws by Jeff Green after Alec Burks hit a three for the Knicks to tie it with 26.1 seconds left, secured a three-game sweep of the Knicks this season.
For the 35-16 Nets, who welcomed back James Harden for just four minutes before he left with an injury, Kyrie Irving dropped 40 points
The 25-26 Knicks were paced by RJ Barrett's 22 points and a triple-double from Julius Randle.
- Kyrie Irving, Nets: 40 PTS, 7 AST
- Jeff Green, Nets: 23 PTS, 4 REB
- RJ Barrett, Knicks: 22 PTS, 4 REB
- Julius Randle, Knicks: 19 PTS, 15 REB, 12 AST
Irving Does Double Duty After Harden Goes Down
The Nets were continuing to deal with injury woes heading into Monday, with Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Tyler Johnson and Landry Shamet all out against the Knicks. It probably wasn't the news the team was hoping to hear considering head coach Steve Nash had said Durant might be able to return Monday from the hamstring strain that has kept him out since Feb. 13 (h/t Brian Lewis of the New York Post).
But the team made up for that as James Harden, who missed the last two games with hamstring tightness, was cleared to play (h/t ESPN's Malika Andrews). Nash said he was not under a minutes restriction.
Brooklyn went 1-1 without Harden, dropping Sunday's game against the Chicago Bulls after a victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.
Harden's return didn't last long. He only logged four minutes, tallying three assists and a rebound and missing his only shot attempt before he left the court.
The team later announced he would not return due to hamstring tightness.
Irving was left to handle the Knicks on his own, and while he posted 23 points in the first half on 9-of-16 shooting, he had little help as the Knicks used a pair of major runs to go into the break with a 10-point lead.
The Nets battled back at the end of the third quarter, heading into the final frame with a one-point lead. It was then that they showed some depth and a sense of urgency as Irving headed to the bench to recuperate.
Green stepped up to lead the Nets through their charge, while Alize Johnson was an instant boost with 12 points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes.
While it was largely Irving's night, he found support by the end with 23 points from Green and 16 from Joe Harris.
Knicks Can't Sustain Strong Defense
Both sides kept pace with each other in the first quarter, though the Knicks flatlined briefly on two separate occasions. They still managed to end the opening frame with a three-point lead, one that built as they carried a 12-2 run into the start of the second quarter.
They held onto that lead up until 3:17 before the half, when another scoreless period pushed the suddenly Harden-less Nets up.
But the Knicks immediately countered, ending the half on a 17-6 run to go up 67-57.
Reggie Bullock paced the Knicks with 16 points at the break, while Derrick Rose tallied 15 points in 13 minutes off the bench.
Though they entered the third quarter with the lead, the Knicks died down again late, allowing the Nets to go on a 14-2 run to take back the lead heading into the final quarter.
They showed signs of life in the final minutes of the fourth quarter as they went on a 7-0 run—led by a quick jumper and a three from Barrett and a layup from Reggie Bullock—to make it a one-point game.
But they couldn't hang on as the Nets went to the line three times inside the five-minute mark to increase the distance, eventually putting it away on a pair of free throws from Green.
The Knicks will head to Boston for a crucial Eastern Conference matchup, with both teams in a tight race for the final playoff spot. The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Brooklyn will host the New Orleans Pelicans, also at 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday.