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RECAP: James Harden guides sizzling Brooklyn Nets past Trail Blazers

Mar 23, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) defends Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2021; Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) defends Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) during the first half at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden scored 25 points and matched his career high of 17 assists to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 116-112 victory over the host Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Jeff Green scored 20 points and Joe Harris added 17 as the Nets won for the 16th time in the past 18 games. Nicolas Claxton recorded 16 points and nine rebounds and fellow reserve Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot added 11 points as Brooklyn prevailed in the opener of a three-game road trip.

The Nets were without Kyrie Irving, who is skipping the trip due to a family matter. Kevin Durant remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Damian Lillard scored 22 points with nine assists and Enes Kanter registered 19 points, 19 rebounds and six assists for Portland. The Trail Blazers lost their second straight following a stretch in which they won seven of nine.

Portland’s CJ McCollum scored 16 points, Carmelo Anthony added 15, Robert Covington had 13 points and nine rebounds, Derrick Jones Jr. also scored 13 points and Gary Trent Jr. had 11.

The two superstars who played had poor shooting efforts as Harden was 7 of 24 from the field and Lillard was 5 of 17. Lillard combined with McCollum (5-for-19) to shoot 10-for-36 from the field.

Brooklyn connected on 49.4 percent of its shots, including 9 of 30 (30 percent) from 3-point range.

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The Trail Blazers made 40 percent of their shots and were 19 of 55 (34.5 percent) from behind the arc.

Claxton tallied the final four points of an 8-0 run early in the fourth quarter to give Brooklyn a 100-93 advantage.

The Nets later led by eight before Covington made two 3-pointers in a span of 22 seconds to pull Portland within 105-103 with 7:35 left.

Two put-back baskets by Kanter kept the Trail Blazers within 112-109 with 3:09 to play.

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The margin was again three when Covington missed a 3-point attempt with 35.4 seconds left.

Harden later fouled Covington with 7.8 seconds left before he could hoist a 3-point try. Covington split the subsequent two free throws to pull Portland within 114-112.

Green drained two free throws with 4.4 seconds left as Brooklyn closed it out.

Portland led 41-37 after the first quarter prior to the teams combining for just 53 points in the second period. The Trail Blazers led 66-65 at the break.

Portland held an 88-84 lead after Kanter’s basket with 3:12 left in the third quarter before the Nets closed with an 8-3 run to take a 92-91 edge into the final stanza.

–Field Level Media