Two games into his Brooklyn Nets career, James Harden's impact has been invaluable for his team. His contributions are quite possibly the difference between the team being 2-0 and 0-2.
After registering a triple-double in his Nets debut, Harden finished with team-high tallies for points and assists as an encore.
James Harden tonight:- StatMuse (@statmuse) January 19, 2021
He's the first player in NBA history with 30+ PTS and 10+ AST in his first 2 games with a new team. pic.twitter.com/bsNC0uUnwq
More importantly, it's about his performance when it matters. In Brooklyn's 125-123 MLK Day win over Milwaukee, The Beard scored 13 points and dished out three assists in the crucial fourth quarter.
Two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 34 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals in 40 minutes but the late clutch plays by the Nets superstars ensured the Nets won.
Harden and Kevin Durant were responsible for 26 of the team's 31 points in the final quarter, including a clutch triple by the two-time Finals MVP that would prove to be the game-winner:
Harden to Durant for the game-winning 3 in #PhantomCam. pic.twitter.com/ReXaVbQO3E- NBA (@NBA) January 19, 2021
Durant finished with 30 points in the game, extending his Nets franchise record for consecutive games of scoring at least 25 points to 10.
The superstar duo combined for 50 of the team's 70 second-half points in their previous game against the Magic, which ultimately resulted in earning a win in Harden's debut.
They again came up huge against the Bucks.
Also according to @EliasSports , Durant and Harden are the first teammates ever to both score 30+ points in each of their first two games together with a franchise.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 19, 2021
Can the duo make these sort of clutch takeovers a habit?
Only time will tell, but unless the team's defensive numbers improve, the duo will be under pressure to deliver in the clutch. Through 15 games, the Nets are allowing 113.7 points per game, which ranks 23rd in the league. They also await the return of superstar point guard Kyrie Irving, which will require some adjustments on both ends of the floor.
For now, the Nets have registered their fourth-straight win to improve to 9-6 for the season.
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