Nets vs. 76ers score: James Harden flops, Kevin Durant dominates as Brooklyn sends message in blowout win

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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.

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.

Sixers defense?

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.

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THU 7:30 P
PHI -3.5, o236.5
TNT
PHI -3.5, O/U 236.5

Season Leaders

points
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K. Durant26.3 PTS, 6.3 AST, 5.8 REB
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K. Durant26.3 PTS, 6.3 AST, 5.8 REB
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J. Embiid23.6 PTS, 2.1 AST, 10.7 REB
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J. Embiid23.6 PTS, 2.1 AST, 10.7 REB
assists
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K. Durant26.3 PTS, 6.3 AST, 5.8 REB
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K. Durant26.3 PTS, 6.3 AST, 5.8 REB
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J. Harden18.6 PTS, 8.6 AST, 5.7 REB
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J. Harden18.6 PTS, 8.6 AST, 5.7 REB
rebounds
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N. Claxton10.5 PTS, 1.5 AST, 6.3 REB
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N. Claxton10.5 PTS, 1.5 AST, 6.3 REB
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J. Embiid23.6 PTS, 2.1 AST, 10.7 REB
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J. Embiid23.6 PTS, 2.1 AST, 10.7 REB
Live updates
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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
March 11, 2022, 3:08 AM
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well, that wasn't what we expected ... takeaways coming soon

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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
March 11, 2022, 2:55 AM
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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
March 11, 2022, 2:35 AM
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76ers fans now raining boos down on their own team instead of Ben Simmons

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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
March 11, 2022, 2:25 AM
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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
March 11, 2022, 2:25 AM
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per Brooklyn PR: The Nets have blocked a season-high 11 shots tonight (previous high: 10 blocks on 12/4 vs. Chicago).

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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
March 11, 2022, 2:21 AM
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Seth Curry knocks down another 3-pointer and stares down his former teammates on the 76ers bench ... this is a bona fide rout

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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 ...

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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
March 11, 2022, 2:14 AM
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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

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Harden another miss to start the second half ... not a great shot

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second half underway in Philly

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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
March 11, 2022, 2:01 AM
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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

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@BrooklynNets via Twitter
March 11, 2022, 1:54 AM
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Harden has hit his last two 3-pointers, a small positive sign for the 76ers after a rough first half

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