NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant wasn’t making shots. James Harden was barely taking them.
That sent the Brooklyn Nets into a defensive struggle, and the NBA’s highest-scoring team handled it well until their superstars showed up.
Harden and Durant each scored 20 points despite three relatively quiet quarters, and the Nets broke away with a big run in the fourth to beat the Miami Heat 98-85 yesterday.
Kyrie Irving added 16 points for the Nets, who completed a sweep of the Heat in two games that couldn’t have been more different. Brooklyn won 128-124 on Saturday, then took the rematch despite barely topping its lowest-scoring game of the season.
“I think our defence held tight the whole game,” Durant said. “Once we were able to start making some shots there in the fourth, we were able to pull away. But our defence won us this game for sure.”
Harden had only 10 points and five shots through three, then scored 10 more in the 18-2 spurt that turned a tie game into a 96-80 lead.
The NBA’s assists leader finished with eight, but struggled to search for his own shot until changing his mentality in the fourth. “Just being aggressive,” he said. “I think I wasn’t very aggressive throughout the course of the game.”
Durant shot just four for 17 through three, then hit two three-pointers in the fourth, the latter snapping a 78-all tie and igniting the big run.
Bam Adebayo had 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a strong follow-up to his career-high 41 points on Saturday. But outside of Goran Dragic’s 21 points, there was little else for a short-handed Heat team that is without Jimmy Butler and Avery Bradley because of health and safety protocols. Tyler Herro, Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless are injured.
But it looked for a while as though they could pull it out anyway, shutting down a team that came in averaging 120.3 points per game until midway through the final period.
“Their talent just took over at the end,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I love the way our guys competed.”
The Nets were four for 21 (19 per cent) in the first quarter, missing all 10 three-pointers in their lowest-scoring period of the season, which ended with Miami leading 21-15.
The second quarter was slightly easier on the eyes — and rims. Miami took a 45-41 edge into halftime, going just four for 19 on 3s but doubling the Nets’ makes after they went two for 17.