Nets, lacking two stars, get blown out by Thunder

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One recreation after the Nets’ Big 3 posted their most spectacular win collectively since Kyrie Irving returned final week from COVID exile, they have been right down to only one celebrity Thursday evening towards the Thunder.

On the one-year anniversary of the commerce with the Rockets that introduced James Harden to Brooklyn, he couldn’t entrance a lineup with out Irving (as a consequence of New York City’s COVID vaccination mandates) and a resting Kevin Durant to victory on the Nets’ dwelling court docket.

Harden’s 26 factors and 9 assists weren’t practically sufficient because the road-weary and undermanned Nets have been pounded, 130-109, by the Thunder at Barclays Center for his or her sixth loss in 9 video games.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander netted 33 factors with 10 rebounds and 9 assists and Luguentz Dort scored 27 for Oklahoma City, which led by as many as 22 factors within the third quarter and by 17 coming into the fourth.

Harden linked on simply seven of twenty-two makes an attempt from the ground, however he drained a pair of 3-pointers early within the fourth to key a 13-4 spurt, capped with a lefty drive by Cam Thomas (21 factors) to shut inside 104-96 with 8:28 remaining.

James Harden, who scored 26 points, drives to the basket during the Nets' 130-109 loss to the Thunder.James Harden, who scored 26 factors, drives to the basket throughout the Nets’ 130-109 loss to the Thunder.N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

The Thunder (14-27) responded with long-range buckets from rookie Josh Giddey (19 factors), Dort and Gilgeous-Alexander to push the lead again to 18 with 5:30 to go.

Before the sport, coach Steve Nash stopped in need of agreeing with the suggestion that his Nets (26-15) wanted a high-scoring evening of 40 factors of extra from Harden with out Irving and Durant, the NBA’s main scorer.

“I don’t ever really say those types of things. But I will want James to be aggressive, to make plays, to put pressure on the defense. And I think James is probably thinking the same thing,” Nash stated. “So, he’ll relish the chance to attempt to choose up his teammates and show that they will win this recreation no matter who’s within the lineup and who’s not.

Kevin Durant, who received a workload off day, looks on during the Nets' loss.Kevin Durant, who obtained a workload off day, seems on throughout the Nets’ loss.N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg

“And for me, as long as he continues to improve the way he has over the course of this year, and stays very aggressive and attack-minded, that will make me happy regardless of if he has 25 or 40.”

The Nets additionally have been nonetheless with out bigs Nic Claxton (hamstring) and LaMarcus Aldridge (foot), so rookie heart Day’Ron Sharpe made a second consecutive begin. But he adopted his career-best 20-point effort in Chicago on Wednesday with a quiet recreation, ending with 4 factors in 20 minutes.

The Nets appeared each bit like an undermanned squad enjoying its fourth recreation in 5 nights in permitting the Thunder to pour in 70 factors whereas nailing 11 of 24 from lengthy distance within the first half (20-for-45 general) and carrying a 19-point benefit into intermission.

Paul Millsap goes up for a shot between Thunder defenders during the Nets' loss.Paul Millsap goes up for a shot between Thunder defenders throughout the Nets’ loss.N.Y. Post; Charles Wenzelberg

Gilgeous-Alexander personally accounted for a 12-0 run within the first quarter, whereas additionally scoring 16 straight factors for Oklahoma City at one level within the interval. He completed the primary half with 21 factors and 7 assists, whereas Dort netted 19 and Mike Muscala nailed three triples and had 11 factors.

Harden paced the Nets with 16 within the half, however he missed eight of 12 photographs by way of two quarters. The different Nets starters — Sharpe, Kessler Edwards, Bruce Brown and DeAndre’ Bembry — totaled eight factors earlier than intermission.

“For sure, it’s not just the rookies. There’s a lot of guys that are going to play that haven’t played recently. Great opportunity for them,” Nash stated beforehand. “We’ve had a difficult stretch here with travel. It’s important that we find a way to compete and try to win this game and really show the character and toughness it takes to get through this.”

The Nets closed a 22-point gap to 10 within the third quarter, with David Duke Jr. (13 factors) nailing a few long-range photographs and Brown additionally contributing six factors within the session. But Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley (16 factors) mixed for 11 in a 15-8 run to shut the quarter for a 100-83 recreation coming into the ultimate interval.

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