National Basketball Association

Was the Brooklyn Nets' win vs. the LA Clippers as meaningful as it seemed?

February 3

Well, that was everything NBA fans expected and more.

The Brooklyn Nets got their fifth win in six games Tuesday, knocking off a scorching-hot LA Clippers team in a thriller at Barclays Center.

Kyrie Irving led the way for Brooklyn, scoring 39 points and reminding the NBA world exactly who he is by doing stuff like this:

James Harden notched his fourth triple-double in nine games with Brooklyn (23 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds), and Kevin Durant poured in 28 points on a ridiculous 11-for-13 from the field. 

Yes, Brooklyn was clicking on all cylinders, and the Twitter-sphere noticed. 

Brooklyn's "Big 3" scored 29 of the team's 36 points in the fourth quarter to hold off Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers, who entered the night having won 10 of their previous 11. 

Wednesday morning, the question was this: What does the win mean?

Naturally, since the Harden trade, the Nets have been the talk of the NBA, and each win and loss has been dissected. 

Tuesday's game was undoubtedly the new-look Nets' biggest test of the season so far, and they passed with flying colors. 

How high those colors can fly depends on whom you ask, however. 

Skip Bayless was effusive in his praise of Brooklyn on Wednesday, saying that the Nets have created a deadly collection of offensive superstars, the likes of which has never been seen before in the NBA, and three guys who can play stellar defense when the situation calls for it.

"What I saw last night was my guy Kawhi Leonard, in the fourth quarter, had a hard time getting clean looks because they got physical with him, and they rotated. It would be Kyrie for a possession, then it would be James, then it would be Kevin at the end."

Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers' "Big 2," each took 24 shots Tuesday, and Leonard finished with 33 points, while George had 26. 

In the final frame, they combined to score 16 of the team's 30 points, but the Nets got crucial stops on Leonard at the end. 

Timely defense aside, Shannon Sharpe identified Brooklyn's offensive output – spearheaded by Irving – as what impressed him most in Tuesday's win.

"When they're on, they're gonna be awfully tough to beat. But they gotta be on every night because their defense is still gonna be a work in progress."

An interesting statistic that emerged from Tuesday's game came in the form of shooting percentages vs. field goals attempted and made. 

Brooklyn shot a simmering 57% from the field, while LA shot just 45.5%.

However, the Nets were able to earn only a four-point victory because both teams connected on 45 attempts.

Brooklyn's percentage was higher because it got up only 79 shots. The Clippers shot the ball 99 times, and those numbers speak to Brooklyn's deficiencies on the defensive end.

On Wednesday, while giving Brooklyn its kudos, Nick Wright had a few more things to say about the Nets on that side of the floor.

Plus, he had to pose one small question. 

"Are you OK with Kevin Durant being the greatest third option in NBA history? Because last night, Kevin Durant was 11-of-13 with zero assists. The reason he had zero assists is because he had to shoot every time he got to touch the ball."

In 23 games this season, Durant has led the Nets in scoring 12 times, and currently, he's the second-leading scorer in the NBA, with 30.8 points per game. 

However, he's second on the team in field goal attempts per game, at 19.5 – trailing Irving's 20.2 – and in the 10 games since Harden's arrival, Durant has led the team in shot attempts only four times. 

Regardless of who's shooting and who's assisting, the Nets are 7-3 since the Harden trade, and they'd be 8-2 if they hadn't melted in the final seconds against Washington on Sunday. 

What exactly is working in Brooklyn is still unclear – but what is clear is that something is going right. 


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