Kyrie Irving, Nets Lose to Cavs in PG's 1st Game with James Harden, Kevin Durant

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJanuary 21, 2021

Cleveland Cavaliers' Collin Sexton (2) drives past Brooklyn Nets' James Harden (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Tony Dejak/Associated Press

It might take some time for the Brooklyn Nets' Big Three to reach its potential.

The Cleveland Cavaliers earned a 147-135 win in double overtime Wednesday to spoil the first appearance of Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant together in the lineup. The trio finished with a combined 96 points at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, while Irving scored 37 alone in his return after he missed seven games for personal reasons.

Despite the star power on that side of the court, it was the Collin Sexton show as the Cavaliers guard scored a career-high 42 points, including 22 in the two overtimes.

He also had the biggest shot of the night with a game-tying three at the end of the first overtime:

The Cavs led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter before the Nets stormed back, tying the game at 113 with just over a minute remaining.

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The battle then went to overtime after a questionable offensive foul call on Irving was overturned:

Cleveland still found a way to pull out the win thanks to the hot shooting from Sexton, helping the Cavaliers (7-7) pull off the upset despite being without key players like Darius Garland and Kevin Love, who were out because of injuries.

It was Cleveland's first game in five days after it had two games against the Washington Wizards postponed in accordance with health and safety protocols.

The Nets (9-7) still have a bright future with three of the best scorers in the league, but there could be an acclimation period ahead.

     

Notable Performances

Kyrie Irving, PG, BKN: 37 points, 3 assists, 3 blocks

Kevin Durant, PF, BKN: 38 points, 12 rebounds, 8 steals

James Harden, SG, BKN: 21 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds

Collin Sexton, PG, CLE: 42 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds

Cedi Osman, SF, CLE: 25 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists

Andre Drummond, C, CLE: 13 points, 7 rebounds

   

Nets Big 3 Left with a Loss Despite Offensive Showcase

Irving was back in action for the first time since Jan. 5 and reminded people how good he can be with some impressive offense.

Facing his former team, which provided him with a tribute video during the game, Irving showed he isn't necessarily going to be a third option.

Durant also took care of business, filling up the stat sheet while scoring in a lot of ways:

It didn't appear as though there was room for everyone to be productive considering Harden had just two points in the first half, but he thrived down the stretch to get the Nets back in the game and tallied a triple-double.

There are still question marks to be answered, including a defense that struggled mightily throughout the night.

Cedi Osman looked like a star at times, scoring 25 points while knocking down four three-pointers. Sexton was then unstoppable down the stretch regardless of who matched up against him.

Against even more proven scorers, the Nets could have some serious issues.

Though it was just one game, it's enough to create some concerns for the contenders going forward.

         

Collin Sexton Outshines Everyone with Dominant Finish

In a game full of quality offensive performances, Sexton was the best of the bunch.

The guard made the biggest shot of the night to force double overtime and then was simply unstoppable in the final period:

Sexton was off to a strong start in his third season but was especially scary down the stretch, giving this team a huge boost when it needed it.

It could make the Cavaliers scary going forward thanks to the defense also on display.

Cleveland entered Wednesday No. 2 in the NBA in both points allowed per game and defensive rating, per NBA.com. The addition of Jarrett Allen makes the team even tougher to score against. Though the Nets posed a difficult challenge for this defense, the high level of play continued on that end of the court.

The squad had active hands throughout the game, totaling 10 steals and six blocks.

The on-ball defense was also top-notch, including rookie Isaac Okoro against the reigning scoring champ:

Brooklyn was finally able to get through the defense late in the game thanks to the exceptional individual talent, but the Cavaliers didn't give up and showed a lot of balance offensively with seven players in double figures.

This level of play on both ends and the fight showed by the whole team could help the Cavs compete with anyone in the Eastern Conference.

          

What's Next?

The two teams will be back in action Friday with another matchup at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.