Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash may have wanted to downplay the importance of his team’s game against the Chicago Bulls, but the Nets played like they had something to prove.
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Entering the game in Chicago, the Nets were just 0-8 against top-tier competition this season. Of the games played against ‘top-tier competition’, they had lost six of the eight by double digits, and one of the single-digit losses (Phoenix) was down 22 before making a late run when the game it was essentially over.
Losses include two against Chicago and two against defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, and the Nets allowed 116.4 points per game in those games.
Before Wednesday night’s game against Chicago, Nash said did not see the game as a statement game, adding that it would be a “great challenge” for his side.
“They want to get a good win against Chicago because we’ve lost to them twice,” Nash said. “I don’t think we are thinking about how we are against all the elite teams. Then [Wednesday] It is a great opportunity to play against an elite team, play well, grow, try to get a victory, but the most important thing is to keep improving ”.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 13, 2023
With Kyrie Irving eligible to play in Chicago, it was the second time this season that Brooklyn had all three Superstars available to play, and only the 16th time overall since they joined forces. However, the Nets are 13-3 in those games.
The Nets are now 13-3 when their Big 3 play together. pic.twitter.com/cGywh4OBv4
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 13, 2023
James Harden was ready after missing a game with a hyperextended left knee, as was Kyrie Irving after a sprained left ankle called into question his condition.
Harden, in particular, found his mojo quite quickly after his absence from a game. He finished with 25 points, 16 assists (a new season high) and seven rebounds. Brooklyn’s 132 points were also a new season high.
Brooklyn was embarrassed 118-95 on a Nov. 8 trip to the United Center, a game they led before the fourth quarter, only to implode, being outscored 42-17 in the final period. Wednesday was a different story.
At one point, the game was tied at 71, but Brooklyn outscored the Bulls 67-41 to secure an easy victory.
“We play with a purpose,” Nash said after the game. “Our guys didn’t bend or break tonight, and that was something Chicago could feel.”
Durant, who had his own 29 points, said the team was I’m not looking to make a statement tonight.
“I’m not trying to make any statement to the league,” he said. “Who cares what they think? We know what we bring to the table and it’s about us. I’m sure people were watching that game tonight.”
Brooklyn improves to 15-4, the league’s best, on the road this season.
The Nets have home games against the Thunder and Pelicans next, before a showdown with the Cavaliers in Cleveland next Monday.