Another night, another win for the red-hot Brooklyn Nets. This one wasn't easy, as they had to come back from a 15-point deficit in the first half, but they eventually did just enough to beat the Atlanta Hawks, 108-107.
The Nets have now won 10 games in a row, which is the longest winning streak in the league this season and the longest for the franchise since it moved to Brooklyn at the start of the 2012-13 season. The franchise record is 14 consecutive wins, which was accomplished twice, in 2004 and in 2006.
As per usual, the Nets have Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to thank for this result. Durant went for 26 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and two blocks; his 16 rebounds were two short of matching his career high, and are the most he's ever grabbed in a Nets uniform. Irving, meanwhile, led the way in the scoring department with 28 and chipped in five rebounds and eight assists.
Just as they have so often during this winning streak, Durant and Irving came to play in the fourth quarter. With Durant sitting to start the frame, Irving took control. He scored eight points in one incredible 60-second span, and finished with 15 of his 28 points in the fourth.
"It's always fun [watching Irving get hot]," Durant said. "So many people love what Kyrie brings to the table, but in the fourth quarter that's really his time. We sit back and let him go to work, and he made big shot after big shot. We just try to feed off his energy and make plays on the defensive end as well."
Durant then showed up to close the show. Twice in the final two minutes, the Hawks tied the game and had the crowd and momentum on their side. On both occasions, Durant responded with ice cold pull-up jumpers to put the Nets back in front. The latter, which came with 1:06 to play, gave them the lead for good.
Durant has been his usual brilliant self all season long, but he's raised his play during the winning streak. He's played in nine of the 10 games and has averaged 29.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists, while shooting 58.1 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from 3-point land. Same story for Irving, who is putting up 29.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 51.8 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from 3-point land.
After a tumultuous start to the season, the Nets have figured things out both on and off the court in recent weeks and now look like a real contender in the Eastern Conference. Thanks to their winning streak they are up to 23-12 on the season, which has them just two games back of the first-place Boston Celtics.
"Sounds pretty good, especially where we've come the last couple of years," Durant said. "Just an up and down vibe with our team the last couple years. It's good to get some stability and win a few games along the way and have some fun."