Kyrie Irving returned after a two-week hiatus on Wednesday, scoring 37 points in the Brooklyn Nets’ 147-135 double-overtime loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In his first match with Kevin Durant and James Harden, Irving played 48 minutes and made 15 of 28 field goal attempts. Durant concluded with 38 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Harden had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
Before the game, coach Steve Nash stated he was “curious” to get a look at the Nets’ All-Star trio in a game together, but was trying to avoid putting too much weight on a single game.
“We will have good nights, we will have great nights, but it is how we galvanize this group together and how we sacrifice and compromise for the greater good,” Irving said.
“That still remains to be seen, obviously one game is out the way, but I am excited for what’s to come.” Patience may be an important virtue for this Brooklyn team. The Nets had visible kinks to work through in the trio’s debut.
After building a double-digit lead in the first quarter, the Cavaliers went on a 17-0 run late in the first quarter stretching into the second and built a nine-point advantage.
Get all the latest Betting and Sport News updates on your social media outlets.
“We seemed a little lost at times, which is natural because we haven’t played together. So there’s a little indecision,” Nash said after the loss. “We started the game turning the ball over, we had seven or eight in the first quarter. We cleaned it up and got ourselves back in the game, but obviously we have to defend better.”
He added: “We’re just getting a feel for each other and this is a process that’s gonna take the entire year.”
At the half, the Cavaliers held a two-point edge over the Nets.
Harden didn’t score his first points until the final minute of the half, when Larry Nance Jr. fouled him, sending Harden to the line where he sank two free throws.
Coming into Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday, Harden had made a shot in the first half in 325 consecutive games, according to ESPN Stats and Information research. Over the last 10 seasons, the only players with longer streaks are LeBron James and Durant.
Brooklyn’s fragmented play bled into the second half. While Harden buried a three early in the third quarter — his first field goal of the game — to briefly give the Nets the lead, Cleveland quickly surged back.
The Nets struggled on the defensive end. In the third quarter alone, 13 of the Cavs’ 22 field goal attempts were uncontested. Cleveland went 11-for-13 on those open looks, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
In the fourth, Brooklyn’s fortunes started to turn. The Nets ended the quarter on a 21-9 run and were able to force overtime, with the score knotted at 113. Irving, Durant and Harden combined for 28 of the Nets’ 35 fourth-quarter points.
It wasn’t enough, however, as Cavs guard Collin Sexton led all scorers with 42, including 15 points in the second overtime to put Brooklyn away.
Wednesday marked Irving’s first game since Dec. 5. He had missed the Nets’ past seven games — five for personal reasons and two while conditioning.
During Irving’s time away for personal reasons, the league fined him for violating health and safety protocols and attending what appeared to be a family birthday party. He also lost over $800,000 in salary for the two games he missed while in quarantine.
Check WagerWeb and find the best online betting site.