Nets vs. 76ers score, takeaways: Kevin Durant, James Harden lead Brooklyn to a comeback victory over Philly

The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers entered the night without two of their best players as Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons were unavailable for their nationally televised matchup. Despite that being the case, the two sides provided fans with an entertaining showdown as the game came down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter before the Nets came away with a 114-109 win.\

Kevin Durant and James Harden did what they could to help Brooklyn overcome the loss of Irving as the two All-Stars led the Nets to a comeback win after combining for 49 points, 22 rebounds and 20 assists. Unfortunately for the Sixers, the production they received from Embiid and company was not enough to get the job done despite the fact they were leading for most of the night. 

Here are four key takeaways from the game:

1. Durant puts on a show

Before the season started, we here at CBS Sports put out our annual Top 100 list of the best players in the NBA, and Kevin Durant was No. 1. Performances like the one he put together on Friday night against the Sixers are exactly why he received that honor. 

Durant did a lot of everything in this game, finishing with 29 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists in a monster triple-double. The Nets made 41 shots in the game, and 21 of them were either made or assisted by Durant. Every time it seemed like the Sixers were about to pull away for good, Durant would come up with a jumper or set up a teammate. Though he actually struggled a bit in the fourth quarter, he had almost singlehandedly kept them in the game to that point. 

With Kyrie Irving out for the foreseeable future, Durant is going to have to do even more for the Nets this season, and this game against the Sixers showed he's more than capable of handling that kind of responsibility. 

2. Embiid's knee is already a cause for concern

The Sixers picked up a win over the New Orleans Pelicans in the season opener, but Joel Embiid unfortunately banged his knee in the process. As a result, he was questionable to even play against the Nets. He ended up giving it a go, but that might have been a mistake. 

"Tonight was one of those nights where I probably shouldn't have played," Embiid said. "But it's good to be out there with the guys and fighting for every game." He added, "I think I'll be fine."

It's admirable that Embiid wants to be out there every single night, and his presence is even more important without Ben Simmons. But sometimes you have to protect a player from themselves. He hasn't been able to get through a single season in his career with some sort of injury, and is coming off a torn meniscus from the playoffs. It doesn't seem wise to be pushing through minor problems this early in the season. 

3. Aldridge shows why Nets wanted him

Just a few months ago, it seemed like LaMarcus Aldridge's basketball career was over. In April, shortly after signing with the Brooklyn Nets, Aldridge announced that he was retiring from basketball due to an irregular heartbeat. During the offseason, however, specialists gave him the green light to return to the league, and he re-signed with the Nets. 

On Friday night, in just his second game with the club, he showed exactly why they were eager to bring him back. Aldridge came off the bench to pour in 23 points and grab five rebounds in Brooklyn's comeback win. What's more, he scored 13 of those points in the fourth quarter, including a clutch and-one dunk to put them in front for good. 

With all of the attention that defenses have to pay to the likes of Kevin Durant and James Harden, Aldridge is going to have open looks all season long. If he's able to deliver even just a few performances like this it will be a big boost for the Nets. 

4. Rivers makes a curious decision not to use challenge

With just over a minute left to play, the Sixers were clinging to a two-point lead and got the ball to Joel Embiid in the post. He tried to go to work, but got trapped too far under the basket and couldn't get his shot to go. The Nets took off in the other direction, looking to tie or take the lead. 

In all of the chaos, Kevin Durant tried to barrel his way through traffic and crashed right into Danny Green on a bang-bang play. It could have gone either way, but the refs called a block in Green, which caused every Sixers fan and coach to erupt in frustration. 

The announcers immediately suggested that Rivers might challenge the call, but for some reason he declined. On the ensuing play, James Harden found LaMarcus Aldridge for an and-one dunk to put the Nets in front for good. There's no guarantee that the call would have been overturned, but those type of situations are exactly why you save your challenge for the end of the game. Just a bizarre decision by Rivers there. 

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FRI 7:30 P
PHI +1, o224.5
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PHI 1, O/U 224.5

Season Leaders

points
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K. Durant 28.4 PTS, 5.4 AST, 7.7 REB
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K. Durant 28.4 PTS, 5.4 AST, 7.7 REB
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J. Embiid 23.9 PTS, 4.4 AST, 11.3 REB
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J. Embiid 23.9 PTS, 4.4 AST, 11.3 REB
assists
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J. Harden 20.7 PTS, 9.6 AST, 7.9 REB
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J. Harden 20.7 PTS, 9.6 AST, 7.9 REB
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T. Maxey 17.2 PTS, 4.9 AST, 3.8 REB
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T. Maxey 17.2 PTS, 4.9 AST, 3.8 REB
rebounds
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J. Harden 20.7 PTS, 9.6 AST, 7.9 REB
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J. Harden 20.7 PTS, 9.6 AST, 7.9 REB
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J. Embiid 23.9 PTS, 4.4 AST, 11.3 REB
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J. Embiid 23.9 PTS, 4.4 AST, 11.3 REB
Live updates
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nets close the game on a 16-1 run to beat the sixers 114-109. incredible turnaround by the nets, but an equally disappointing collapse by the sixers. durant goes for 29 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the nets, while lamarcus aldridge adds 23 points and five rebounds off the bench. sixers get 46 combined points from tobias harris and seth curry, and made 14 3-pointers but couldn't score down the stretch. 

October 23, 2021, 2:10 AM
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looks like some fans spilled a drink courtside which is delaying the game right now. 114-109 nets with 10.7 seconds left

October 23, 2021, 2:08 AM
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durant hits both free throws to make it a four point game. and then the sixers throw the inbounds pass right to james harden. wow. just a disastrous last few minutes here for the sixers

October 23, 2021, 2:05 AM
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curry only goes 1-2 from the line, so the decision pays off for the nets. 111-109 nets with 15.2 seconds left. 

October 23, 2021, 2:02 AM
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patty mills decides to foul seth curry to prevent him from getting a look at a three pointer. looks like the nets are going to play the foul game but there's still enough time for a few possessions either way

October 23, 2021, 2:01 AM
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aldridge hits both and it's 111-108 nets with 16.7 seconds left. sixers call a timeout to advance the ball and now will need to score quickly

October 23, 2021, 1:59 AM
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tobias harris misses! and now aldridge will go back to the line with a chance to make this a three point game with just 16.7 seconds left. what a turnaround!

October 23, 2021, 1:58 AM
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oh man oh man. embiid stuffed at the rim and durant races the other way in transition. he crashed into danny green and the call is a block. philly crowd furious but doc rivers doesn't challenge. nets respond with an and one dunk from aldridge to take their first lead of the game 

October 23, 2021, 1:57 AM
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big time defensive stand from the sixers as they force a shot clock violation to keep the lead and get the ball back with just over a minute left

October 23, 2021, 1:55 AM
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danny green just airballed three pointers on back to back possessions. nets turned the first one into a layup and now have a chance to tie or take the lead

October 23, 2021, 1:54 AM
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well the sixers get one stop and immediately call a timeout themselves lol. so we'll to back to a break with the score still the same

October 23, 2021, 1:51 AM
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we'll go to timeout with 3:18 remaining and the sixers leading 108-104. but the nets have the ball coming out of the break and will have a chance to make this a one possession game. 

October 23, 2021, 1:49 AM
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the nets will just not go away. feels like they've been down between 4-10 points for pretty much the entire game

October 23, 2021, 1:46 AM
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thybulle! he throws down the sweet alley-oop on the fastbreak and the sixers are back up by 10. nets forced to call a timeout

October 23, 2021, 1:42 AM
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strange and-one here for the nets. joe harris hits a three from the corner and then maxey gets called for a foul while wrestling with griffin under the basket. just a six point game again with 7:50 left

October 23, 2021, 1:36 AM
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oh man harden just went crashing into the basket support after missing a layup. don't think it will be anything serious but his back really slammed into the stanchion 

October 23, 2021, 1:34 AM
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maxey with a triple from the top of the key and the sixers have pushed the lead back up to 11. great start to the fourth for them 

October 23, 2021, 1:30 AM
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91-85 sixers at the end of the third quarter. tobias harris and seth curry have combined for 43 points, while embiid is up to 19 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. nets just keep hanging around, however, and this should be a good finish. kevin durant with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists

October 23, 2021, 1:26 AM
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and there's a triple double for durant. 21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and we're still in the third quarter. nets have cut the deficit to just four points 

October 23, 2021, 1:17 AM
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aldridge giving the nets a nice boost off the bench. 10 points in nine minutes so far and is knocking down every open mid range jumper. he's going to have a lot of those looks this season with all the attention teams have to pay to durant and harden 

October 23, 2021, 1:14 AM
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james harden with the triple and he has just moved past kyle korver for fourth place on the all-time 3-pointers made list. now only behind ray allen, steph curry and reggie miller

October 23, 2021, 1:05 AM
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good news as embiid is back on the court for the start of the second half

October 23, 2021, 1:01 AM
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62-55 sixers at the half. tobias harris and seth curry leading the way for the sixers with 19 and 16 points, respectively. concern for philly with embiid going to the locker room just before halftime. nets got out to a slow start but are hanging around thanks to kevin durant, who has 17 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists so far

October 23, 2021, 12:48 AM
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well embiid just made his way to the locker room. came up with a big block on joe harris but was limping and grabbing at his knee afterwards. less than a minute left in the half so perhaps he's just going back early. still not what the sixers want to see, though. embiid was questionable to play tonight after banging it in the team's opener 

October 23, 2021, 12:45 AM
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lol embiid just tried to throw a cross court pass that ricocheted off the rim and went right to durant who went coast to coast for an and-one 

October 23, 2021, 12:42 AM
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nets are hanging right in this thanks to their offense, but they're going to have to figure out a way to get some stops if they want to win this game. sixers are just doing whatever they want. shooting 59 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3 point land 

October 23, 2021, 12:40 AM
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embiid upset after he gets hit with a technical foul. gave a little elbow to blake griffin's chest after he got fouled. not the most egregious but definitely unnecessary contact after the whistle 

October 23, 2021, 12:35 AM
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tobias harris to the basket in transition to push the sixers' lead back up to double digits and force another timeout from the nets. he's up to 16 points now

October 23, 2021, 12:29 AM
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