That. Felt. Good. pic.twitter.com/QwrMHvdvYK— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
Nets vs. 76ers score: James Harden flops, Kevin Durant dominates as Brooklyn sends message in blowout win
The Nets turned Thursday night's highly anticipated matchup into a lopsided victory
What was supposed to be one of the most exciting games of the NBA season quickly devolved into a laugher, as the Brooklyn Nets went into Philadelphia to deliver a robust 129-100 win over the 76ers in the first matchup between the two teams since last month's colossal trade involving James Harden and Ben Simmons. The Nets came out of the gates hot and never trailed, putting a thumping on the 76ers, who had been undefeated with Harden since the trade.
Simmons, who didn't play, was met with boos from his former home crowd before the game, but it eventually turned its ire upon its own team due to the disheartening performance. Kevin Durant was spectacular, leading the Nets with 25 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists in 32 minutes, while Seth Curry -- also a part of the Harden/Simmons trade, went off for 24 points on 10-for-14 shooting against his former team. Kyrie Irving added 22 points on 5-for-11 3-point shooting.
Things didn't go well for Harden in his first game against the Nets since the trade, as he went just 3 for 17 from the field en route to 11 points, six rebounds, five assists and four turnovers. Joel Embiid did everything he could, putting up 27 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes, but it was nowhere near enough.
Here are a few takeaways, followed by a recap of live updates from Thursday night's game.
Durant, Nets send a message
If people had forgotten about the Nets as a bona fide championship contender, they certainly reminded everyone on Thursday night. Even without Simmons, Brooklyn looked airtight on both ends of the floor, with Durant clearly the best player on a floor that featured multiple superstars. He got any shot that he wanted all night long, showcasing his versatility and ability to score from virtually any spot on the court.
This crossover by KD 😳 pic.twitter.com/iFccWwrvfN— NBA TV (@NBATV) March 11, 2022
He also got in Embiid's face after a collision in the first quarter and scowled a little harder after one of his dunks, indicating that this game meant more to him than an average regular-season affair. The fact remains: if Durant is healthy, the Nets can win any playoff series. Plain and simple.
Harden shrinks in the moment
Harden came into Thursday's matchup with a reputation for poor playoff performances and shrinking in the big moment. This certainly didn't help his case. It wasn't just that Harden missed shots -- he looked confused and passive for much of the night, only attempting two free throws while settling for contested jumpers. His passing and dribbling were off as well, as he had four turnovers with many more tipped passes along the way. Philly has looked great with Harden and Embiid so far, but this was a wake-up call that the James Harden we see in the regular season is not often the James Harden we see in the postseason.
One of the biggest questions after the Harden trade was how the Sixers defense would fare against a high-powered offense. Thursday night wasn't very encouraging. The Nets dominated the paint and shot nearly 50 percent from the 3-point line, getting seemingly any shot they wanted all night long. If the 76ers are truly going to be a title contender, they're going to need to figure out their defensive scheme over the final month of the regular season.
final.— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 11, 2022
Took care of business. Next.— Joe Tsai (@joetsai1999) March 11, 2022
well, that wasn't what we expected ... takeaways coming soon
NETS WIN pic.twitter.com/vNR0UXmVtt— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
So far tonight:— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
🚫 Season-high 15 blocks
🚫 13 steals (ties season-high)
A Philadelphia fan who has been yelling toward Nets’ Ben Simmons has been removed from his seat to exit the arena.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 11, 2022
Don't miss #NetsOnYES postgame coverage tonight after the action!— YES Network (@YESNetwork) March 11, 2022
LIVE stream: https://t.co/0cgHA97Iau pic.twitter.com/Q163Z7LgZu
Rollin' to the final frame pic.twitter.com/2gVJP6NKBq— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
Seth is EVERYWHERE— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
Cleared for takeoff 🛫 pic.twitter.com/Zvhg4XCQRk— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
March 11, 2022
76ers fans now raining boos down on their own team instead of Ben Simmons
Bruceeeee— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
He knows a thing or two about getting buckets in Philly pic.twitter.com/JArn3ZE7f0— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
per Brooklyn PR: The Nets have blocked a season-high 11 shots tonight (previous high: 10 blocks on 12/4 vs. Chicago).
well hello S3TH— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
Seth Curry knocks down another 3-pointer and stares down his former teammates on the 76ers bench ... this is a bona fide rout
That's not nice, @KDTrey5 😳 pic.twitter.com/MUtgbgXoLC— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
this game may seem like a blowout, but the 76ers have more than enough firepower to go on a run if and when the Nets finally cool off ...
Ohhhhh my Kevin stop it— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
Harden's lazy pass is picked off by Kyrie Irving, which leads to a Bruce Brown dunk ... a horrific start to the second half for the 76ers and Harden
Harden another miss to start the second half ... not a great shot
second half underway in Philly
18 points.— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
In the first half. pic.twitter.com/TjVcgZVkh6
Halftime - Nets 72, 76ers 51
- Kevin Durant: 18 points, 9 reb, 5 ast
- Kyrie Irving: 16 points, 4-7 3pt
- Joel Embiid: 21 points, 8 reb, 15-19 FTs
- James Harden: 11 points, 4 reb, 3 ast, 3-15 FG
Back for more after the break pic.twitter.com/yyBE48V7Xr— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
at the half.— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) March 11, 2022
☔️☔️☔️— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022
Harden has hit his last two 3-pointers, a small positive sign for the 76ers after a rough first half