DALLAS — James Harden played the entire fourth quarter of the Nets’ 102-99 win over the Mavericks on Tuesday night, while Kevin Durant did him one better and played the whole second half.
Don’t expect either to take off Wednesday when the Nets play the second night of back-to-back, at Houston.
“S–t, I might play 48 [against the Rockets]. Just ’cause,” Durant said. “Give y’all something to talk about.”
Harden logged 41:35 Tuesday, and Durant played 40:30. Durant is averaging 36.2 minutes, more than three minutes above his average last season.
“I know people may be concerned about my minutes and I got injured before and all this extra s–t. But we’ll figure that out if I get there,” Durant said. “Right now I want to play basketball.”
After playing both ends of just three back-to-backs last season, if Durant plays in Houston, he will have done so in all five back-to-backs already this season.
“One thing about me and KD, we love to play basketball. So it don’t matter,” Harden said.
“But [coach] Steve [Nash] has been in that position before, so he kind of knows and has a feeling for the game. When it’s go time, you’ve gotta put your big dogs out there to win the game. Simple.”
Harden will have added incentive to play Wednesday: It will be his first game back in Houston with a full crowd. Last season’s return, when Harden had a triple-double in a March 3 win, was marred by the pandemic. This will have added emotion.
“I was there eight years. My whole entire family is there. I’ve got a lot of things going on there. But just for me, obviously a lot of emotions,” Harden said. “But for me, I’m trying to get a win. This is about racking up as many wins as we can.”
Nic Claxton logged 20:57 Tuesday, by far his most action since returning from illness. He had six points, nine rebounds and was a team-high plus-9.
More important, he never came off the floor in the fourth quarter, when he was a plus-14. The Nets were able to switch 1-through-5 on defense and finally figured out how to slow Dallas star Luka Doncic. Moving away from the drop coverage clearly got the Mavericks out of sync.
Does Claxton think the Nets will incorporate more switching with him back?
“I mean, we should. Teams don’t like that, especially when I get out there and they can’t do nothing with me,” Claxton said. “I’m up there guarding, and it just creates havoc. A lot of teams don’t want to just play a one-on-one game and when you switch it like that it causes teams to go against the grain.”
The Nets (17-7) are a half-game ahead of the Bulls atop the Eastern Conference. They are 9-2 on the road, the highest above .500 on the road they’ve been at any point in a season in franchise history.
Durant, Harden’s heavy minutes likely won’t get them day off appeared first on maserietv.com.