The Brooklyn Nets continued their success at home with a 135-125 victory over the visiting New Orleans Pelicans at the Barclays Center on Monday night.
The Nets improved to 3-4 on the year, with all three wins coming at home.
The Pelicans, meanwhile, dropped to 1-6 on the year as they keep tumbling to begin the season without 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.
New Orleans losing overshadowed forward Brandon Ingram's stellar performance in which he scored a new career high.
PG Kyrie Irving: 39 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals
SG Caris LeVert: 23 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists
SF Joe Harris: 19 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal
C Jarrett Allen: 18 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
PF Taurean Prince: 12 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals
SF Brandon Ingram: 40 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
SG Jrue Holiday: 15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks
PG Lonzo Ball: 15 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists
SG Josh Hart: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals
SG JJ Redick: 12 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 block
Pelicans' Defensive Woes Biggest Long-Term Problem
New Orleans also allowed 122.5 points per game prior to visiting Brooklyn, which ranked second-to-last in the league.
The Nets took advantage by shooting 53.3 percent (49-of-92) from the field, including 39.0 percent from three (16-of-41).
By halftime, according to the Nets, the Pelicans had allowed Brooklyn to score their most points in a half (67) and secure their largest halftime lead (17) so far this season.
Following New Orleans' 115-104 loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday, head coach Alvin Gentry told reporters the team's defensive efforts had been "our all Achilles' heel all season long." That kept true Monday night.
Brooklyn's ability to stretch its lead to as many as 20 points in the third quarter negated New Orleans' late-game comeback effort led by Brandon Ingram, which trimmed the Nets' lead to 104-98 entering the fourth quarter. The Pelicans scored 48 points in the third quarter, a franchise record, and still trailed by six.
It has been difficult to properly assess this Pelicans squad with Williamson yet to make his regular-season debut while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. Plugging Williamson in won't automatically improve the Pelicans' lacking defense, though.
However, Williamson's absence has aided Ingram on the offensive end:
It's encouraging that the Pelicans were able to make this a game in the fourth quarter, as well as Ingram's continued ascent into a leading star for the team, but that is far outweighed by atrocious defense that put them in a double-digit hole to begin with and prevented them from pulling out a comeback win:
Kyrie Irving Smoothly Transitioning into Nets' Floor General
Irving entered the game averaging 30.5 points per game, second in the NBA, and delivered yet again Monday night.
Not only was Irving scoring at a heavy clip, the six-time All-Star created a variety of looks throughout the game:
And when Irving wasn't driving to the bucket, he was facilitating his new supporting cast:
Irving and Kevin Durant signed with the Nets as free agents in the offseason. With Durant out for the entirety of 2019-20 recovering from a torn Achilles, Irving will shoulder the responsibility of implementing a new system. Against the Pelicans, who also made several offseason adjustments, the Nets' cohesion with Irving was on display:
Per NetsDaily's Anthony Puccio, Irving has already made his presence known in franchise history: "a streak of seven straight 20-point games which matches the longest streak of 20-point games for a player at any point in the Brooklyn era (since 2012-13)."
Following the game, Irving spoke with YES Network's Michael Grady on the court. "Just be patience with us," he said. "We'll get there."
Over the weekend, Irving told The Athletic's Joe Vardon, "True leadership comes from the way your actions speak."
So far, Irving's actions are making it easier to believe those words.
The Nets and Pelicans each have a three-day layoff. The Pelicans will return home to host the reigning champion Toronto Raptors on Friday at 8 p.m. ET, while Brooklyn will travel to Portland to play the Trail Blazers on Friday at 10 p.m. ET.