Nets vs. Pacers Recap: Kyrie Irving Returns, Reunited Big 3 Sparks Comeback Win
The Brooklyn Nets flew into Indiana in the hopes of righting the ship. The Nets were down on a three-game losing streak. Thankfully, they had incoming help. Superstar Kyrie Irving would make his season debut after missing 35 games, with the Nets allowing him to be a part-time player. The addition of Irving provided the boost of energy Brooklyn needed. After a slow start, and a deficit that peaked to 19, the Nets turned up near the end of the third and throughout the fourth quarter. In the end, the Nets stormed to a 129–121 victory.
The first quarter saw the Big Three start together for the first time this season. The Nets put up a blistering 32 points in the first quarter, led by Kevin Durant’s 16 early points. They shot 46 percent from the field and limited their early turnovers as well. However, the biggest issue for the Nets was their defense. The Pacers blitzed out to an early 37–32 lead on 66 percent shooting and nearly 50 percent from three. The Pacers were lead by the surprising play from Lance Stephenson, who was signed to a 10-day contract. Stephenson opened up on 8/9 shooting and 20 points.
The second quarter saw more of the Pacers building upon their lead. Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis worked in the paint, helping his team surge to a 73–60 lead at halftime. On the Nets side, Kyrie Irving scored his first basket on a pull-up jumper. After a cold first quarter, Irving poured in eight points. Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge with 20 points and 12 points, respectively.
The third quarter saw the Nets 13 point deficit surge to 19. However, things changed when the Nets inserted DeAndre’ Bembry into the lineup. Thankfully, Bembry’s high energy play put a jolt into the Nets on offense, as he would sprint with a burst of speed for quick baskets in transition. Bembry was also a boon on defense as he allowed the Nets to quickly rotate and switch on defense effectively. Brooklyn’s big three sparked some efficient offense as well, as the Nets would close the deficit to seven heading into the fourth quarter thanks to a Irving buzzer beater.
The fourth quarter saw the “Scary Hours” come into fruition. As it is well known, good defense leads to good offense. The Nets defense put the clamps on the Pacers, holding them to only five points in seven minutes. Better yet, the superstars, along with Bembry, Patty Mills, and Nic Claxton put the game away on offense. Irving lead the way with 10 fourth quarter points, followed by Durant with eight. Patty Mills with a timely three pointer, Bembry with quick layups in transition, and Claxton bullied his way to the rim. The Nets put up 35 points in the fourth quarter on 68 percent shooting. They had outscored the Pacers 35–20 in the quarter to seal the 129–121 comeback victory.
The long awaited return of superstar guard Kyrie Irving did not disappoint. Irving poured in 22 points on 9/17 shooting, as well as four assists and three rebounds. In his first game in a Nets uniform since June 13, 2021, it looked like Irving was never gone. Though he seemed rusty and finding rhythm in the Nets offense in the first quarter, as the game progressed, Irving adapted and fit right in. Overall, just like Nets fans, Irving was happy to be back on the floor with his teammates.
What’s important about Irving’s return is the spacing it adds to the offense. With Irving on the court, it was apparent that opponents could just guard Durant and Harden, and let others beat them, especially when Nets employ non-shooter lineups. With Irving providing much-needed spacing, the Nets offense opens up for more drives to the paint, and wide open threes. Also, Irving completes the trio of the best isolation scorers in the league. Adding Irving, who can easily beat defenders one-on-one, adds another layer to the Nets offense. Irving’s return should help alleviate pressure on Durant and Harden on the court. Defensively, Irving is also active and will play with effort to make sure Nets get stops.
More importantly to note bout Irving’s return, is that the Nets have their heart and soul back. Irving’s animated and wholesome demeanor on the sidelines with his teammates, and the passion he brings on the court keeps the Nets grounded and focused on the task at hand. Irving also helps bring a certain level of calmness and motivation for this team. Something the team has missed at times. Plus, we all know how much his teammates love him.
Deandre Bembry Helps Save The Day
The comeback does not happen without forward DeAndre’ Bembry. After sitting on the bench for the first half, Bembry checked in at the eight minute mark of the third quarter. Bembry’s entry changed the tone of the game. His energy and aggressiveness on defense helped at the point of attack, as well as creating stops on defense, something that the Nets were not able to do early. His good defense lead to great transition opportunities.
Bembry, a St. Patrick’s High alum like Irving, has proven to be a key role player for Brooklyn. Bembry has allowed to the Nets to play small-ball lineups, especially with Irving’s return. The way that Bembry is able to guard 1–5 and quick switches is something the Nets can rely on down the stretch. His finishing around the rim was especially helpful tonight as well. Finishing with 12 points, Bembry was a perfect 5/5 from the field. With Bembry’s consistent play as a high energy defender and transition slasher, it looks like Sean Marks has nailed another off-season addition for the Nets.
Last season, Nets fans were introduced to Scary Hours with the trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden. The three superstars are always expected to help bring home victories. Tonight, they showed their ability to take over games. While Kevin Durant was a force throughout the game, Irving did a majority of his damage in the second and fourth quarter, while Harden took over in the third.
Having three superstars who can space the floor, score in isolation, as well as takeover the game at any point is amazing for Brooklyn. The Big Three altogether are essentially the key to the Nets title hopes. Nets fans must hope that all three can stay on the court, as painfully we can remember what happens when one, or sometimes two aren’t available.
Regardless, something special is brewing in Brooklyn. Alongside Durant, Irving, and Harden, the Nets have a bevy of role players that fit alongside them. The possibilities are endless and the Nets can show how elite they can be with the perfect combination of superstars and complimentary players.
The Nets will return to Brooklyn to face the Milwaukee Bucks. The game will take place on Friday, January 7, with tip-off at 7:30 p.m. EST in Barclay’s Center. Sadly, Irving will not be available to play in this game due to New York City’s vaccine mandate. Hopefully, the Nets can provide a repeat performance of tonight in light of the situation. If there is one thing Nets fans know about this team, is that they can adapt and adjust. Currently, the Nets have a record of 24–12. However, they are still second in the Eastern Conference, 1.5 games behind the first-place Chicago Bulls.
For a video breakdown of the game check out SeverTheBond’s reaction: