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Kevin Durant, James Harden Electric as Nets Beat Luka Doncic, Mavericks

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorDecember 8, 2021

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 7: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets handles the ball as Dorian Finney-Smith #10 of the Dallas Mavericks defends in the first half at American Airlines Center on November 7, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets overcame a 17-point third-quarter deficit to defeat the host Dallas Mavericks 102-99 on Tuesday at American Airlines Center.

Kevin Durant scored 24 points to lead the Nets, and James Harden added 23 points and 12 assists. Mavs guard Luka Doncic led all scorers with 28 points.

Brooklyn took the lead for good at 98-97 after a Patty Mills three-pointer. A Harden layup preceded a pair of free throws from Mavs big man Kristaps Porzingis, who cut the Nets' edge to 100-99 with 1:16 left.

Durant then responded with a 14-foot turnaround jumper for the three-point lead.

Both teams then traded empty possessions, leading to Dallas getting the ball once again with a chance to tie.

However, Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. both missed three-pointers, with the latter player's shot attempt coming at the buzzer.

The 17-7 Nets have won three of their last four games. The 11-12 Mavs have lost three straight.

    

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Notable Performances

Mavericks PG Luka Doncic: 28 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds

Mavericks PF Kristaps Porzingis: 17 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists

Mavericks SF Dorian Finney-Smith: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals

Nets PG James Harden: 23 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds

Nets F Kevin Durant: 24 points, 7 rebounds

Nets C LaMarcus Aldridge: 15 points, 5 rebounds

    

KD, Harden Lead 17-Point Comeback

The Mavs took a 71-54 lead with 7:30 remaining in the third quarter after Porzingis drilled a three-pointer.

A Dallas victory appeared to be a foregone conclusion at that point. KD and Harden had combined for just 17 points at that juncture.

The only Net having anything more than an average game was reserve James Johnson, whose 12 first-half points helped keep this matchup from becoming a complete blowout.

However, Durant and Harden took this game over and showcased why the Nets remain the clear Eastern Conference favorites through six weeks of play.

The duo combined for 30 of the team's final 48 points. They got it going in the back half of the third quarter, chipping away at the Mavs' lead until it was down to 11.

Durant kicked off the fourth quarter with a mid-range jumper:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

Don't look now... https://t.co/U25znxcPtj

KD did work on the other end too, swatting a Reggie Bullock layup attempt:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

Nope! https://t.co/e6t4Xjpaeh

Brooklyn kept slicing the lead as Durant, Harden and Patty Mills all took turns dropping buckets. Durant, Harden and Mills combined to score all but two of the Nets' 27 fourth-quarter points.

The Nets ultimately went on a 16-4 run to start the fourth quarter, capped by a pair of Harden free throws to give Brooklyn a 91-90 lead.

The two teams went back-and-forth for a bit, with Durant nailing this two-pointer to tie the game at 95:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

We got a GAME. https://t.co/zSJ6DjNV9c

Doncic responded with a floater before Mills, who is sometimes automatic from three-point land this year, drilled another one from deep for a 98-97 lead:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

BALA!!! https://t.co/c1Ot1buMOX

Harden then bullied his way into the paint past Doncic for a bucket and a 100-97 edge:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

😈😈😈😈😈😈😈 https://t.co/ZefEu8MBAJ

KD closed the Nets' scoring for the night with a smooth baseline bucket:

Brooklyn Nets @BrooklynNets

SO. GOOD. https://t.co/oiLpMs43W5

 

Brooklyn survived numerous Dallas chances to tie the game down the stretch for the win.

Ultimately, the Nets got hot when the Mavs went cold, and that was good enough for the Nets to move 10 games over .500.

     

Nightmare 4th Quarter, Poor 3-Point Shooting Doom Mavericks

The Mavericks scored just 13 fourth-quarter points, six of which were scored by Doncic. They shot 3-of-19 from the field and missed all but one of their 10 three-pointers.

That three-point performance was symbolic of the game. For the night, they shot 9-of-46 from beyond the arc.

There are two ways to look at this game from the Mavs' perspective.

On the bright side, the Mavericks played well outside their poor three-point shooting, which pretty much single-handedly sabotaged the team's hopes at winning this game.

"We play basketball like that for the rest of the year, we will be in pretty good shape," Mavs guard Jalen Brunson told reporters postgame.

"Just happened to run into the best team in the East. I mean, we're moving in the right direction."

The Nets entered this game averaging 109.5 points per matchup, and they scored 7.5 fewer than that mark. The Mavs defense was largely exceptional and shut down KD and Harden for two-and-a-half quarters.

Ultimately, the two future Hall of Famers' talents were too much down the stretch, but even then, the Mavs played a very good defensive game.

However, this game still stings. The Mavs led by 17 points at home with under 20 minutes remaining. Yes, the Nets are one of the best teams in basketball, but that's still a brutal loss no matter the opponent.

The poor three-point shooting is also symbolic of the fact that Doncic's supporting cast for his career has been hit or miss. Their production (particularly shooting the basketball) has been inconsistent.

Porzingis has particularly had an up-and-down Mavs career, and on Tuesday, he ended up shooting just 6-of-17 (1-of-5 from three-point land).

After the game, Porzingis even told reporters that the team's three-point shooting was "catastrophic."

That shooting ended up torpedoing the Mavs' chances to win, but this team is also bottom third in the league in field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and offensive rating, per Basketball Reference. This game was ultimately symbolic of the Mavs' season, and one has to wonder how the Mavs can get out of this rut.

     

What's Next?

Both teams play on the road Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.

The Nets will visit the Houston Rockets in Toyota Center. Dallas will travel to Memphis to play the Grizzlies at FedExForum.

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