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Basketball Daily Dose

Kyrie Irving's 32 helps Nets top Pelicans

by Matt Ellentuck
Updated On: April 21, 2021, 9:36 am ET

The Brooklyn Nets edged out a 134-129 win over the New Orleans Pelicans after Kyrie Irving stripped Zion Williamson on what could’ve been a game-tying 3-pointer. Without Kevin Durant or James Harden, the Nets once again beat a decent team to stay within one game of the Philadelphia 76ers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The season the Nets are putting together is pretty unbelievable. They’re playing under a new head coach in Steve Nash and running with a fraction of their opening day roster since moving four players for Harden. Somehow, they’re still finding success with their three best players (Harden, Irving, and Durant) all missing significant time. They hold a 39-19 record with 14 games left to play, which is about as good as they could’ve expected preseason before the injuries started rolling in. And they’re beating the good teams, too. Impressively, they’ve won 21 out of 29 games against teams above .500 this year.

For a team known for its Big 3, the rest of the lineup is doing its job and then some. Joe Harris is scoring 14.3 points per game with 3.6 rebounds, making 47.7% of his 6.6 3-point attempts per game. Jeff Green is scoring 10.2 points per game with 3.7 rebounds and sinking 40.3% of his 3.4 3-point attempts per night. Even Blake Griffin has stepped up, finishing Tuesday night’s game with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting with one 3-pointer, eight rebounds, three assists, one block, and just one turnover in 28 minutes.

The Nets have figured out how to win games without each of its top players. In 24 games without Harden, the Nets are 12-12, outscoring teams by 4.1 points per 100 possessions, according to StatMuse. Without Irving, the team has won 10 out of 16 games (though with a net rating of -0.1). And without Durant, the team is 24-10, outscoring opponents by 4.7 points per 100 possessions.

This version of the Nets is really good and really scary. With Harden now sidelined indefinitely, this will be the crew (with Durant at some point) closing out the season for Brooklyn, and fans should feel good about it. 

The questions of course will come if the Big 3 are all back together again for the postseason after sharing the floor for all of (so far) seven games.

But we’ll get there when we get there. For now, let’s appreciate how good this team has been when they weren’t supposed to be.

Now let’s talk about all five games from Tuesday night.

Hawks 112, Magic 96

The great

Wendell Carter Jr. — Carter Jr. scored 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting with one 3-pointer, nine rebounds, three steals, and one turnover in 26 minutes.

Clint Capela — Capela scored 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting with 19 rebounds, two blocks, and no turnovers in 27 minutes.

John Collins — Collins scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting with 15 rebounds, two assists, one block, and one turnover in 25 minutes.

The good

Cole Anthony — Anthony scored 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting with one 3-pointer, eight assists, five rebounds, two steals, and two turnovers in 31 minutes.

Trae Young — Young scored 25 points on 7-of-16 shooting with two 3-pointers, seven assists, five rebounds, one steal, and five turnovers in 32 minutes.

Knicks 109, Hornets 97

The great

Miles Bridges — Bridges scored 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting with three 3-pointers, 14 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block, and four turnovers in 38 minutes.

Terry Rozier — Rozier scored 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting with four 3-pointers, eight assists, seven rebounds, and one turnover in 39 minutes.

P.J. Washington — Washington scored 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting with six 3-pointers, three rebounds, one steal, and two turnovers in 35 minutes.

Julius Randle — Randle scored 16 points on 5-of-16 shooting with one 3-pointer,10 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two turnovers in 40 minutes.

RJ Barrett — Barrett scored 24 points on 8-of-17 shooting with six 3-pointers, one rebound, one block, and two turnovers in 40 minutes.

The good

Nerlens Noel — Noel scored four points on 2-of-2 shooting with 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal, two blocks, and no turnovers in 27 minutes.

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Nets 134, Pelicans 129

The great

Kyrie Irving — Irving scored 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting with three 3-pointers, eight assists, two rebounds, one steal, and five turnovers in 38 minutes.

Zion Williamson — Williamson scored 33 points on 14-of-19 shooting with seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, and four turnovers in 35 minutes.

Lonzo Ball — Ball scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting with three 3-pointers, four rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two turnovers in 26 minutes.

Brandon Ingram — Ingram scored 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting with two 3-pointers, five assists, four rebounds, and two turnovers in 32 minutes.

The good

Jeff Green — Green scored 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting with one 3-pointer, nine rebounds, six assists, one block, and one turnover in 33 minutes.

Bruce Brown — Brown scored 11 points on 3-of-4 shooting with one 3-pointer, 11 rebounds, four steals, and one turnover in 26 minutes.

Joe Harris — Harris scored 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting with three 3-pointers, two assists, two rebounds, one steal, and no turnovers in 32 minutes.

Timberwolves 134, Kings 120

The great

Anthony Edwards — Edwards scored 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting with five 3-pointers, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block, and three turnovers in 38 minutes.

Karl-Anthony Towns — Towns scored 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting with four 3-pointers with 18 rebounds, five assists, four blocks, and three turnovers in 36 minutes.

D’Angelo Russell — Russell scored 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting with six 3-pointers, six assists, three rebounds, and two turnovers in 25 minutes.

Moe Harkless — Harkless scored 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting with three 3-pointers, seven rebounds, two steals, and no turnovers in 29 minutes.

The good

Harrison Barnes — Barnes scored 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting with two 3-pointers, eight rebounds, five assists, and one turnover in 39 minutes.

De’Aaron Fox — Fox scored 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting with two 3-pointers, six assists, four rebounds, two steals, and three turnovers in 28 minutes.

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Clippers 113, Trail Blazers 112

The great

Paul George — George scored 33 points on 13-of-22 shooting with two 3-pointers, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals, and three turnovers in 37 minutes.

C.J. McCollum — McCollum scored 28 points on 11-of-26 shooting with three 3-pointers, five assists, five rebounds, two steals, and one turnover in 36 minutes.

The good

Marcus Morris — Morris scored 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting with two 3-pointers, six rebounds, one steal, and one turnover in 32 minutes. 

Norman Powell — Powell scored 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting with three assists, one rebound, one steal, and three turnovers in 39 minutes.

Matt Ellentuck

Matt Ellentuck is a freelance fantasy NBA writer for NBC Sports Edge. Previously, he was an NBA and WNBA reporter for SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @mellentuck