Brooklyn’s $115 million Big Three responded to its first adversity of the postseason by putting up a Big 104.
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden combined for 104 points in the Nets’ 141-126 stomping of the Celtics in Game 4 on Sunday night at TD Garden to give Brooklyn a 3-1 lead over Boston in its first-round series.
Durant finished with 42 points, and missed only six shots. Irving responded to a poor Game 3 showing (16 points) by posting 39 points to go along with 11 rebounds. And Harden flirted with a 20-20 performance, adding 23 points and a career-high (for any game) 18 assists.
“Our guys were locked in,” Nets coach Steve Nash told reporters.
As a team, Brooklyn shot 57.8 percent from the field, 59.3 percent from 3-point range (16-for-27) and 96.7 percent from the free-throw line (29-for-30) — putting the highly-coveted 50/40/90 shooting line to shame. Durant and Irving each went a perfect 11-for-11 from the charity stripe, while Harden was 5-for-6. The Nets’ 141 points is a franchise playoff-record.
It was offensive efficiency at its finest. Durant, arguably the best mid-range shooter in NBA history, dominated from that area of the floor. Irving went 6-for-12 from downtown, and added a putback dunk. Harden also had a one-handed slam off a feed from Joe Harris (14 points on 4-for-5 shooting from 3-point range), and served as the maestro of both the starting lineup and second unit. Lineups featuring Durant, Irving and Harden have outscored the Celtics by 44 points in 100 minutes during the series.
The Nets also got their act together defensively, shutting down everyone not named Jayson Tatum (90 points in his last two games). With Kemba Walker (who has been struggling from the field himself) out, Marcus Smart and Evan Fournier went a combined 7-for-27 from the field — including 4-for-18 from 3-point range.
Irving wasn’t his usual self early in Game 3, more tentative and sometimes standing in the corner on offense. But Game 4 was a different story, as the boos and “(expletive) you” chants — plus who knows what else — from the sellout crowd failed to throw No. 11 off game.
The vitriol was expected. After all, Irving had said that he was going to stay with Boston — only to change his mind. And before making his return to the city for the first time with fans, Irving said he hoped that it would just be about basketball — not “belligerence or racism.”
“My money is on him anytime after a performance like he had where he couldn’t quite get into the game in Game 3,” Nash said.
After the game, Irving stomped on Boston’s logo at centercourt — disrespect (his shoe) for all disrespect (all the vulgarities aimed his way) — and then an idiot fan nearly hit him with a water bottle. The fan was arrested and banned from TD Garden for life, per an official announcement.
That despicable act, though, did not diminish what Brooklyn’s Big Three accomplished on the court on Sunday night — 104 points is quite a number.