Kyrie Irving held the ball in his hands with a little under a minute left in the fourth quarter. As he maneuvered his way out of a double team set by P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, Irving knocked down a two-step fade away 3-pointer to extend the Brooklyn Nets’ lead to nine points.
Irving’s shot was the nail in the coffin as the Nets (2-3) sealed a 123-116 victory over the Houston Rockets (3-2), Friday night, inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Two nights after falling a couple points shy of his career-high, James Harden finished with 36 points and eight assists but looked far from the player who put on a show in D.C. on Wednesday. He shot 10-for-31 from the field and an abysmal 2-for-16 from 3-point range.
With 19 points in the first half, Harden helped the Rockets gain a 15-point advantage over the Nets while opening the game shooting 46.1% from deep in the first quarter.
After giving up an average of 127.5 points through the first four games, Houston came out the gates with high energy on the defensive end. They exploited Brooklyn’s inability to take care of the ball and accounted for nine of the Nets’ 14 turnovers in the first half.
Unfortunately, Houston’s effort on the defensive end and hot shooting came to a halt with 2:30 left in the second quarter, as the Nets closed out the half on a 14-4 run. Down 61-59 at the break, the Rockets held a brief lead early in the third quarter before the Nets took a 15-point lead of their own in the second half.
The Nets were clicking on all cylinders and ended the night shooting 59.4% from deep. Brooklyn had three players who scored over 20 points in the win, with Taurean Prince leading the way with 27 points (9-17 FG, 6-10 3PT) and 12 rebounds.
James Harden putting the moves on Kyrie pic.twitter.com/lonTK3AkBx— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 1, 2019
The Rockets failed to slow down the Net’s backcourt with Irving recording a quiet 22 points and Caris LeVert adding in 25 of his own. With Houston down by double-digits, Russell Westbrook scored 12 of his 27 points in the second half, to go along with seven rebounds and eight assists in the loss.
Despite their defensive issues in the second half, the Rockets bench was a no-show once again, as Houston’s second unit was outscored 27-19 — with Ben McLemore leading the way with nine points. Eric Gordon shooting struggles continued in Brooklyn, as the former Sixth Man of the Year scored three points while shooting 0-7 from the field, 0-for-5 from behind the arc.
Gordon’s inability to find his shot was part of the reason why the Rockets ended the night shooting 12-for-48 (25.0%) from behind the arc.
After a sub-par performance in the Big Apple, the Houston Rockets will return to the court on Sunday for a showdown against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. Tip-off is slated for 5 P.M. CT.