Harden’s Triple-double Helps Nets Escape in OT Against Spurs

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — While Kevin Durant has to sit down, James Harden keeps stepping up.

Harden had 30 points, 15 assists and 14 rebounds and the Brooklyn Nets overcame a collapse in the final seconds of regulation to beat the Spurs 124-113 in overtime on Monday night, snapping a 17-game losing streak in San Antonio.

Harden had his seventh triple-double in 22 games with Brooklyn since being traded from Houston, where he plays again Wednesday.

“Honestly, I just try to find ways to impact the game and not just scoring the basketball,” Harden said. “We have a number of guys that can put the ball in the basket. Just being a distributor of getting guys shots, getting guys easy buckets.

"I feel like it’s my job. Just playing the game right way, not forcing anything, trying to make the right play, trying to get guys shots. That’s kind of my mindset every single game and it’s been working.”

Despite recent injuries to Durant and Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn remains second in the Eastern Conference at 23-13.

“He’s a brilliant basketball player,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said. “He makes others better. He can get to the line. He can finish in the paint and he’s always a threat from 3. He literally can do almost everything there is to do out there. He’s been a great leader for us.”

Irving added 27 points and Bruce Brown had 23 for Brooklyn, which bounced back after a loss to Dallas on Saturday ended its eight-game win streak.

The Spurs closed the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run to force overtime, with 3-pointers by Lonnie Walker IV and Patty Mills and a driving layup by DeMar DeRozan.

“I thought they were great,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Really worked hard. They have dug down deep all year and never gave up.”

Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray tied the game at 108 to close regulation after initially losing the ball near the 3-point line while attempting to drive to the paint. Murray was able to gather the loose ball behind him, quickly turning and rising to hit a 21-footer with Harden defending as time expired.

“We felt like we gave up that lead too easily down the stretch,” Irving said. “Just a few miscues, a few miscommunications. Just things that we want to clean up. We’ve just got to take this one on the chin. I don’t want to call it laziness, but just our focus level wasn’t matching the intensity in terms of where San Antonio was trying to get back in the game.”

Brooklyn scored the first eight points of overtime to regain command and went on to win a regular-season game in San Antonio for the first time since Jan. 22, 2002.

DeRozan had 22 points and 11 assists, while Murray and Walker each had 19 points. All five starters scored in double figures for San Antonio.

Playing just their second game since being sidelined for two weeks by health and safety protocols due to COVID-19, the Spurs got off to a sluggish start against the active Nets.

San Antonio is still without Rudy Gay, Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, Devin Vassell and Quinndary Weatherspoon, who are sidelined due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

The Nets were not at full strength either, with Durant missing his eighth straight game with a left hamstring strain.


Nets: Durant has not played since scoring 20 points in 33 minutes against Golden State on Feb. 13. … Irving and Harden held up tip-off momentarily to greet and speak to Popovich. Irving first spoke to the veteran Spurs coach and then Harden joined in as the trio enjoyed some laughter during a brief conversation.

Spurs: The Spurs announced fans can return to the AT&T Center beginning March 12 against Orlando. Attendance had been limited to family members and staff previously. Seating will be limited to 3,200 fans initially. … Murray collected his 700th career assist in his 215th game with the Spurs. In franchise history, only Tony Parker, Johnny Moore, Andre Robertson, Johnny Dawkins and Willie Anderson have more assists in that span.


Nets: Play at Houston on Monday.

Spurs: Host the New York Knicks on Tuesday.

By RAUL DOMINGUEZ Associated Press


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