Harden shines in Nets debut

by Jamaar Hawkins, i64sports

No practice, no problem for the new-look Brooklyn Nets. James Harden became the first player in franchise history to record a triple-double in his season debut, finishing with 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds. The NBA’s leading scorer Kevin Durant led all scorers with 42 points on an insane 16-of-26 shooting from the field.

To think this was without one of the most dynamic guards in the NBA with Kyrie Irving still missing in action while going through the NBA COVID-19 protocol as he returns from a personal absence. 

The question of whether Harden and Durant could co-exist on the court together was answered early in the ballgame with Harden casually feeding the Slim Reaper for an early jumper. Harden collected a handful of assists in the first half as he seemed to be finding his place on a Brooklyn team that he has still yet to practice with. The ex-Houston Rocket guard who averaged at least 30 ppg the past three seasons didn’t even score his first points of the game until the last minute of the first quarter. Harden’s first field goal of the game came two minutes in the second quarter.

The second half was a different story for both Harden and the Nets who fit well enough on the offensive end to hold off a pesky Orland Magic team.

Durant is now averaging 30.7 points per game, his second highest total since 2014.  After suffering an Achilles injury in his final season with Golden State, Durant appears to be nearing the form that made him the league’s most feared scorer during his prime.

Interior defense is still a question mark for the Nets. Simply put, Deandre Jordan will not cut it against the upper echelon teams. Namely a Los Angeles Lakers squad featuring the league’s best big man, Anthony Davis.  Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists against Brooklyn on Saturday night. But overall both Harden and the rest of the Nets seemed to be pleased by the team’s first game together.

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