SAN ANTONIO — The Nets’ Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge acquired a tribute of their returns to the town the place they performed for the Spurs. Then teammates James Harden and Kyrie Irving ensured they acquired a triumph.
The 2 stars have been good in main the Nets to a 117-102 victory over the Spurs at AT&T Middle on Friday. They took command late within the third quarter and cruised within the fourth.
Harden had one other triple-double with 37 factors, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Probably the most encouraging signal wasn’t his brilliance, however his bounce — he attacked the rim and even took off for a shocking dunk by way of contact within the third.
Irving scored eight of his 24 factors within the fourth quarter, when the Nets put the sport away. They improved to 29-16, pulled even on share factors with the Bulls atop the Japanese Convention, and made Aldridge and Mills’ return victorious.
“Simply with the ability to keep within the second, keep within the expertise, that’s going to be essential to me to simply try to soak it up as a lot as I can,” Mills stated earlier than the sport. “I put a decade value of ardour and pleasure into with the ability to symbolize the Spurs the suitable method and the Spurs’ method. And being amongst the group and getting concerned with the group of San Antonio was what made that particular.”
Aldridge, who spent six seasons in San Antonio, had 16 factors and 7 rebounds. Mills, who performed a decade as a Spur and received a title in 2014, added 9 factors. The pair have been feted with a tribute video proper after the nationwide anthem, and Mills went down the Spurs bench hugging former teammates. Coach Gregg Popovich humorously refused at first, earlier than relenting.
“All the things involves an finish in some unspecified time in the future. We’re in a rebuilding mode, and that doesn’t assist [Mills] very a lot. He’s crucial to Brooklyn. It’s a distinct group once you’ve acquired Harden and Irving and [Kevin] Durant. You’ve acquired these guys on the market and he’s a complement to them,” Popovich stated. “We knew this was going to occur. We simply needed to strive to ensure he acquired to a spot the place it was going to be a profitable program.”
Irving was his flashy self, at one level going between his legs to a trailing Blake Griffin for a transition layup. However the spotlight was undeniably Harden.
The struggling All-Star had been an ugly minus-26 within the two pervious video games on this street journey, at Cleveland and Washington. However on Friday he was not solely spectacular, however springy.
Harden performed each second of the third quarter, giving the Nets 12 factors and 4 assists. They’d 12 baskets and he accounted for two-thirds of them — together with an emphatic dunk for a 68-67 lead with 5:04 left within the interval.
Trailing 74-73 with simply over a minute and a half left within the third, the Nets ran off eight unanswered factors to lastly get some type of management over the competition.
Energizer Bruce Brown got here off the bench with harassing protection on Derrick White and a pair of blocks in succession. The second got here with simply 3 seconds left within the third quarter, and he raced up-court and was rewarded with a thunderous fast-break dunk that beat the buzzer.
Irving’s bucket to open the fourth capped the run and pushed the result in seven. His dipsy-do layup, adopted by a pull-up 3-pointer, made it 104-90 with 4:37 left to play.