Kyrie Irving's 34 Points, James Harden's Triple-Double Lead Nets Past Knicks

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 16, 2021

Brooklyn Nets' Kyrie Irving (11) drives past New York Knicks' Immanuel Quickley (5) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 15, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

In the battle for New York basketball supremacy, the Brooklyn Nets have taken a 2-0 advantage.

The 27-13 Nets earned their second win of the year over the New York Knicks with a 117-112 victory at home Monday as James Harden recorded his 10th triple-double of his Nets career.

New York used a 7-0 run late to inch closer to the Nets but couldn't stave off another standout performance from Brooklyn.

For the 20-20 Knicks, Julius Randle dropped 33 points.


Notable Performers

  • Kyrie Irving, Nets: 34 PTS (13-18 FG, 4-6 3PT, 4-6 FT), 4 AST
  • Julius Randle, Knicks: 33 PTS (13-27 FG, 3-6 3PT, 4-6 FT), 12 REB
  • Immanuel Quickley, Knicks: 21 PTS (6-19 FG, 4-12 3PT, 5-7 FT)
  • Jeff Green, Nets: 20 PTS (8-11 FG, 2-2 3PT, 2-3 FT), 6 REB
  • James Harden, Nets: 21 PTS (6-15 FG, 0-5 3PT, 9-9 FT), 15 AST, 15 REB


Brooklyn Hangs On Thanks to Strong 1st Half

The Knicks have quietly climbed to a decent spot in the NBA standings, and it's all due to their strong defense. Entering Monday, the group ranked fourth in the league in defensive rating, behind the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz, per NBA.com.

Hanging out with the top teams in their respective conferences isn't bad company to keep.

The Nets are the exact opposite, with the league's top offensive rating and field-goal percentage, obviously powered by their three superstars (and soon to be a fourth when Blake Griffin finally takes the court).

On Monday, it was especially important for the Nets to play to their strengths and command an offensive onslaught. After the Knicks held tight in the first quarter, the Nets broke it open and forced a defensive collapse.

Rather than falter against the Nets defense, Brooklyn ended up shooting 62.5 percent in the first half, a season-high mark.

Jeff Green led with 17 points at the break, 14 of which came in the first quarter.

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets


Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

EXTRA EXTRA NICE 😱😱 https://t.co/ol1VuRFlkE

Kyrie Irving and Harden were right behind him in the first half, with 16 and 11 points, respectively.

After another strong quarter following the break, the Nets had built themselves enough of a cushion to stave off a late push that saw the Knicks climb within five points at the end. If the Nets are able to get a little sharper on defense, it would make their hold on the league that much stronger.


Knicks Comeback Too Little, Too Late

After holding the Nets within five after one, the Knicks dropped to a 67-55 deficit at the break.

But one of the only reasons that separation wasn't even greater was due to the persistence of Reggie Bullock.

The 29-year-old entered Monday averaging 8.7 points throughout his 34 starts this season, certainly further down on the list of Knicks scoring leaders than the likes of All-Star Julius Randle (22.9 points per game) and RJ Barrett (17.1 points per game on the season and 18.9 in the last 11 games).

But Bullock was the star Monday with a team-leading 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting (5-of-7 from three) and four rebounds in the first half. He went 3-of-4 from three in the first six minutes.




That gives Reggie 17 points (5 threes) 📈 https://t.co/IZ3jWQURAb

Randle was right behind Bullock with 14 points, but Bullock's consistency was key as the Knicks fought to stay in it.

After a slow start, his teammates caught up to his charge, but it was too little, too late for the Knicks as they couldn't keep pace with a dominant Nets team.

Rookie Immanuel Quickley had a quiet first half, dropping seven points in the first quarter as he made his first career start, but he was held to one point in the second quarter. He made up for that with a strong second half, ending the night with 21 points.

The Knicks held their ground in the first quarter, but everything fell apart soon as the Nets broke open the game.

The Knicks' top-rated defense came in to slow the bleeding, but there wasn't enough offensive production for the group to fall back on after they allowed the Nets to do what they do best through so much of the first half.


🔥 RJ makes it a 7-0 @nyknicks run.. they've cut it to 4 with 4:29 left on ESPN! https://t.co/mSipJfGwYK

In order for the Knicks to continue to be competitive, it's imperative that they make plays on both sides of the ball throughout the game, rather than try to play catch-up later.


What's Next?

The Knicks are right back at it Tuesday, and their opponent won't get any easier. The team is traveling to the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers for an 8 p.m. ET tip.

As for the Nets, they're headed to Indiana to take on the ninth-seeded Pacers on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.