Durant has 33 points to lead the Nets past the Pelicans, 108-102
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving missed 32 combined shots and weren’t one bit bothered.
Durant had 33 points and 10 rebounds, Irving scored seven of 19 in the 1:12 Final, and the Brooklyn Nets outlasted the shorthanded New Orleans Pelicans 108-102 on Friday night.
“Our growth as a team just sees some of the leaders on our team, myself included, being ready,” said Irving, whose 3-footer at 29 with 44 seconds left gave the Nets a lead. of 106-100 and condemned New Orleans to just its fifth home loss this season. “That’s probably where I feel like we’re making incredible progress in games like this.”
TJ Warren scored 15 points for Brooklyn and Royce O’Neale added 14, including a 3-pointer with 2:27 left.
“There will come a time when the shots won’t fall – like tonight,” said Durant, who shot 9 of 26 but also had 11 free throws. “I liked how we kept grinding regardless.
“You always have to go out there and lock down the defensive side of the ball,” Durant continued. “It’s the type of games you want to play to learn your team and understand them even more, because you’re a totally different team when your shots don’t come in. So that was a good test for us.”
CJ McCollum scored 28 points and Naji Marshall had a career-high 23 points for the Pelicans in their second game since losing Zion Williamson in what should be about three weeks with a strained right hamstring.
Jose Alvarado added 17 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which hasn’t had forward Brandon Ingram (bruised left big toe) in the roster for 20 games.
“Obviously we lost a few players,” Alvarado said. “We had a chance to win the game and some things didn’t work for us. … Kyrie hit a big 3 and made it a little tough, but we have to look back and learn.
The Pelicans led for much of the game but struggled to hit shots in the second half, finishing on 39.8 percent shooting (35 of 88).
New Orleans made just two of 12 3s in the second half after going 10 of 17 in the first. Meanwhile, Nets center Nic Claxton protected the paint with five blocks.
Defensively, the Nets were “really aggressive in the second half,” Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said, noting his team’s “ability to challenge shots on the rim.”
“Nothing was easy,” Vaughn said. “No walk-in 3 transition that we gave up earlier in the game.”
Brooklyn shot 43.5 percent (37 of 85), including 15 of 33 from deep.
After trailing 15 in the second quarter and 11 at halftime, the Nets opened the third quarter with a 17-5 run, capped by O’Neale’s second chance 3, to take a lead of 70-69. The match remained tight until the last minutes.
Marshall helped the Pelicans get off to a quick start with 10 points in the first quarter, highlighted by three 3-pointers.
Alvarado’s 3 and layup sparked an 11-0 run that gave the Pelicans a 43-28 second quarter lead, and New Orleans led 64-53 at halftime.
The Nets “came out in the second half, picked it up, shot more, got a little more physical with us and I thought it affected our strength and our pace,” the Nets coach said. Pelicans Willie Green. “We had several guys guarding Kyrie, guarding Kevin, trying to get away with their shooters. I think we did a solid job. We didn’t do enough to win the game, but we can keep building.
Nets: Won four straight at New Orleans. … Has had six straight wins over Western Conference teams. … Improved to 24-8 since Vaughn took over as coach Nov. 1, initially on an “interim” basis before that word was dropped from his title Nov. 9.
Pelicans: Trey Murphy III scored 11 points. … Marshall has scored 20 or more goals in three games this season. … With Three Kings Day marking the start of the carnival season which runs until Mardi Gras Day, the Pelicans have launched their “City Edition” uniforms in the purple, green and gold colors associated with Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans since the 1870s.
Nets: In Miami on Sunday night to complete a three-game road trip.
Pelicans: In Dallas on Saturday night to begin a five-game road trip.
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