Brooklyn Nets: Three Takeaways From the Win Over the Houston Rockets (3/3/2021)

The Brooklyn Nets have nearly reached the All-Star break, but they had one last game to play before that. While most games against 11-22 teams on 12-game losing streaks are not all that important, this one undeniably was. After all, it was James Harden‘s first game back in Houston as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

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Harden didn’t end up having an 80-point game like some might have hoped for, but he did excel in this game. He led the Nets to a 132-114 victory, as multiple Nets put up great nights in the win.

This team is already rolling over opponents, and will have Kevin Durant back in the fold once they get back from the All-Star break. In the meantime, the team has yet another win to celebrate. Here are three takeaways from Wednesday night’s game.

Harden’s Houston Homecoming

The Houston Rockets made sure to let the world know of their plans to retire James Harden’s #13–Tilman Fertitta announced it to the world the day before the game. The Rockets also played a tribute video to Harden in-game, to thank him for his incredible Rockets tenure.

Those gestures did absolutely nothing to deter Harden from running roughshod over his former team. He started out as more of a facilitator than a scorer early in the game, but still managed to put up another triple-double by the end of the night. Harden finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists in a dominating performance. While he was a bit sloppy, giving up eight turnovers as well, he also reminded Houston fans of what he can do with some ridiculous moments:

James Harden will be going to Atlanta for his ninth All-Star appearance this weekend. However, he had some business to take care of first. He and the Nets did just that, as #13 dealt Houston their 13th straight loss.

Nic Claxton Does It Again For The Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets fans and followers are quickly running out of words to adequately describe the excitement around Nic Claxton. After yet another spectacular game from the second-year big man, the list of unused compliments grows even shorter.

One game after scoring a career-high 17 points against San Antonio, Claxton nearly matched that effort in this game. He put up 12 points and five rebounds in just seven minutes in the second quarter, and finished the game with 16 points and a career-high eight rebounds in just 16 minutes of playing time. He scored a few seconds into his time on the court and just kept going from there:

Nets fans have been clamoring for more Claxton minutes for a while now. However, there’s a big difference between wanting him out there and having a center who can reliably switch on the perimeter, rim-run, and even possibly facilitate on the short roll. And this is just 20 games into his NBA career. While there’s a lot of growth left, the potential here is clear. Here’s to hoping that Claxton can eclipse 20 minutes of playing time at some point after the break.

Kyrie’s Up and Down Night

James Harden was always going to be the focus of the Brooklyn Nets in this game. His All-Star backcourt mate also had a strong performance in this one. However, Kyrie Irving got there in a very strange way in what was an odd night for him.

Irving finished with 24 points on 21 shots to go along with six assists and five rebounds against just two turnovers. However, he had 11 points with 1:30 left to go in the third quarter, then poured on the rest of his points from there as the Nets finally put the game out of reach late in the fourth. He also defied physics in a typical Kyrie manner:

Kyrie is clearly someone who can get hot in a hurry, and this game was yet another example. However, his struggles early in the game were somewhat odd given the relative strength of their opponent. Then again, the Rockets were trying really hard in this one and did cut the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter. This might have been a different game if Irving’s struggles had carried over into the final 13 minutes of the game. That being said, Irving’s preposterous play above probably will be (and probably should be) all that anyone remembers of his performance in his last game before his seventh All-Star game.