The headliner going into this contest between the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets was the play of their star guards James Harden and Kyrie Irving, who ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the league in points per game, respectively.
As two of the best isolation players in the game today, we knew we were in for a lot of buckets between the two prolific scorers.
Harden won the scoring battle, but Irving was more efficient, and his team came out on top as the Nets defeated the Rockets 123-116.
Take a look at three things to take away from this contest.
Kyrie Irving had put on a scoring clinic going into this game averaging 35.3 points per game, good for second-best in the NBA. But the Nets record didn't reflect Irving's scoring success as they entered the contest with a 1-3 record.
It's hard to place any of that blame on Irving who was doing what he could to carry the team, but in this contest, his teammates around him stepped up.
Irving didn't have to carry as much of the scoring load, as forward Taurean Prince finished with a team-leading 27 points. Caris LeVert had a huge contest as well with 25 points with Garrett Temple (16 points) and Joe Harris (15 points) joining them in double figures.
Irving still did a solid job scoring the rock - he finished with 22 points - but for the first time this season, he reached double-digit assists for a double-double with 10 dimes. Last season with the Boston Celtics, we saw Irving take his playmaking to another level averaging a career-high 6.9 assists per game. He finished with a career-best 18 games with double-digit assists and that passing has carried over to this season.
PICK- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 1, 2019
FROLL@_bigjayy_ | #WeGoHard pic.twitter.com/ke4yZBO2rr
Irving has dished out at least five assists in each contest he's played in, but his 10 assists in this contest leading to a victory suggests that when he's setting up his teammates as often as he's looking to score, it could lead to success for Brooklyn as long as his teammates step up the way they did in this one.
Harden, Rockets' 3-point shooting
Listen, we know that James Harden is a sniper from 3-point range. He's the king of making difficult, contested shots on the perimeter and his step-back 3 is one of the most lethal shots in the NBA.
But so far this season, Harden's 3-point shooting has gotten away from him. It could be a combination of opposing defences making progress in stopping the league's best scorer. It could also be poor shot selection and forcing shots that aren't there.
Harden was 2-for-16 (12.5%) from long range. He's averaging 14 3-point attempts per game shooting 20.0% (!) from that distance.
The Nets had 22 turnovers in this contest. It's hard to make sense of a team winning a game with that many giveaways. Then you look at the Rockets' 3-point shooting and the game's result lines up. Russell Westbrook went 1-for-6 and Eric Gordon was 0-for-5. As a team, they went 12-for-48 (25.0%), with more than half of their field goal attempts coming from 3-point land.
The Nets made 19 3's on just 32 attempts, shooting 59.4% from that range.
The Rockets are going to gun away from beyond the arc, but if Harden can't find his efficiency from that range, Houston's offence will be in trouble.
Starting Jarrett Allen
You don't typically see a player get a headline for posting just seven points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, but Jarrett Allen was a huge difference-maker in this game.
Allen started the first two games of the season before head coach Kenny Atkinson decided to go to DeAndre Jordan. After two consecutive losses, Atkinson went back to Allen as the team's starting centre in this contest and he played a vital role in their win.
Allen is a fantastic rim protector - the exact type of player you need against a team like Houston with players like Harden and Westbrook who are constantly attacking the rim.
.@_bigjayy_ protects. 🤚@taureanprince delivers. 👏 pic.twitter.com/U65sxWtpJi- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) November 1, 2019
He also has the length and quickness to keep up with an athletic centre like Clint Capela, who had just four rebounds in the game.
Allen had a team-best +/- at plus-29, meanwhile, Jordan was a team-worst minus-19. Jordan had seven rebounds in 16 minutes of play, so his impact on the glass was felt when he was on the floor, but Allen's impact on the team's win may have won him the starting spot back for the time being.
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