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Nets look for a return to normalcy vs. Hawks

Sportsnaut
Dec 7, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) waits for play to resume against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 7, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) waits for play to resume against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets just saw their six-game road winning streak come to a screeching halt due in large part to a short-handed roster.

Two days later, they hope to have all of their key cogs in place Friday when they continue their four-game road trip against the Atlanta Hawks.

NBA leading scorer Kevin Durant scored 24 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 15 in Brooklyn’s 102-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. The two stars, however, were reduced to the role of spectators the following night in the second half of a back-to-back set, which ended in a 114-104 defeat to the Houston Rockets.

While the forced rest on Wednesday likely was beneficial, Durant wasn’t interested in opinions that increased minutes this season will have a negative effect. The 33-year-old has seen his season average elevate to 36.2 minutes following some heavy usage when he averaged 40.4 during his last five games played.

“I know people might be concerned about my minutes and I got injured before and all this extra (expletive), but we’ll figure it out if I get there,” Durant said. “Right now, I want to play basketball.”

Durant scored 32 points in Brooklyn’s 117-108 home win over Atlanta on Nov. 3.

James Harden, who collected 16 points and 11 assists in that contest, overcame a 4-for-16 shooting performance (3 of 12 from 3-point range) on Wednesday to score 25 points in the setback to the Rockets.

“I got the shots I wanted, for sure, I just didn’t make them,” Harden said after his second game back in Houston since he was traded to the Nets.

Ultimately, Harden admitted, the numbers game played a significant role in Brooklyn sustaining its second loss in three games.

“It’s frustrating when you’re just short-handed too many guys and you try to make up for so many things,” said Harden, who averages 20.7 points to go along with team-leading totals in assists (9.6), rebounds (8.0) and steals (1.4).

“… It’s just frustrating but there’s nothing you can do. It’s out of your control, you just have to keep pushing.”

The Hawks overcame their own short-handed roster to snap a modest two-game losing skid with a 121-110 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

Trae Young scored 29 points for Atlanta, which played without wings Cam Reddish, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Solomon Hill. Reddish (sprained left wrist) and Bogdanovic (sprained right ankle) have missed the team’s last four games, while Hill is expected to sit out the remainder of the season with a right hamstring tendon tear.

“He’s that emotional leader for us. He’s been a big-time voice for us in the locker room, both on and off the floor,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said of Hill. “It’s a real big loss for us.”

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot drained a career-high seven 3-pointers en route to posting a season-high 23 points on Monday for the Hawks, who made a franchise-record 25 3-pointers on a season-high 49 attempts.

“We feel all good, I would say, satisfied,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said. “It’s satisfying passing the ball like that, finding someone open and just making. We got to keep playing like that.”

–Field Level Media