Harden takes over to lead Nets over Heat
James Harden believes the best is yet to come after producing a late burst of scoring to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 98-85 victory over the Miami Heat on Monday.
Harden — who joined the Nets in a blockbuster trade from Houston earlier this month — produced a dazzling burst of fourth-quarter scoring as Brooklyn finally overpowered an under-strength Miami team.
The 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player poured on 16 of his 20 points in the final period to lead the Brooklyn scoring alongside Kevin Durant, who also had 20.
Harden and Durant’s contributions in the fourth quarter proved decisive, with the duo making a succession of three-pointers as Brooklyn reeled off 15 unanswered points.
Kyrie Irving had 16 points, while Joe Harris finished with 12 and DeAndre Jordan 11. The victory improved the Nets’ season record to 11-8 in the Eastern Conference.
But it was Harden who caught the eye with his game-changing late cameo that swung the contest in Brooklyn’s favor.
Crunch time @JHarden13 was different.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 26, 2021
“I was in a role for eight years (in Houston) where I was controlling the ball, dominating the ball,” Harden said. “Now it’s a different experience for me but it’s still great.
“It’s still basketball at the end of the day. It’s fun. Once we get a rhythm and flow it will be a lot easier for us.
‘One of the greatest’
Nets coach Steve Nash showered praise on Brooklyn’s star new recruit.
“He was great,” Nash said of Harden. “We’re starting to see a glimpse of the things he can do scoring the ball.
“He’s one of the greatest offensive players to ever play the game. He’s so effective manipulating the defense that he’s a positive even when he’s not scoring.”
Brooklyn is also starting to see the best of Durant, who delivered another consistent performance in the latest chapter in his return after a year-long injury absence. Durant has now scored 20 points or more in 14 straight games.
“Man, I feel good,” Durant said. “Mentally I feel like I’m still catching up to the speed of the game, but physically I feel solid.
“I just try to come out there and produce, and rely on the work that I put in.”