James Harden
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Harden played big and the Nets keep winning.

After a dominating performance in every aspect against the Magic, the Nets were back in action Friday night against the 1-win Pelicans team.

The game seemed to be going just like the one on Wednesday, with the Nets taking as much as a 21-point lead in the third quarter.

However, the Pelicans had no intention of being embarrassed on their home court and made a furious comeback, even taking the lead at one point in the fourth. But down the stretch, the Nets leaned on their two stars who carried them across the finish line for a 120-112 victory.

Although Brooklyn built up a 21-point lead in the third, they allowed the Pelicans to end the quarter on a 12-4 run. That run breathed new life into the young New Orleans team as they fought back to grab a 104-101 lead with a little over 4 minutes left in the game.

Bruce Brown, who wasn’t much of a factor offensively hit a huge corner three as the shot clock expired to tie the game. That shot was the catalyst behind a 19-8 run to close out the game for Brooklyn.

The Nets are no stranger to near collapses against inferior opponents. Earlier on the road trip, they nearly blew a double-digit lead to the Pistons. Being able to keep focus in all four quarters against lesser competition is something this team will need to work on as the season progresses.

The game started off pretty well for the Nets though, in particular a one Joe Harris (24 points). The Brooklyn sharpshooter came out the gates scorching hot, connecting on 5 triples in the first quarter. The Nets as a team shot 7-10 from deep in the first quarter and that hot shooting continued for the half as they shot a sizzling 66 percent from deep (12-18).

Harden went off

Speaking of sizzling first halves, James Harden (39 points, 5 rebounds, 12 assists) continues to look like his old MVP self. Harden scored 17 in the first half as his aggressiveness has really come on as of late.

James would build off a strong first half with an even stronger second half. The third quarter was where Harden really caught his rhythm. The Beard dropped 13 in the frame and accumulated his points in a variety of ways. He did it from deep, from the mid-range, at the rim and was even able to draw two fouls on three-point attempts.

James wasn’t much of a factor in the fourth until late in the quarter. He did have a three-point play midway through the quarter, but it was a dagger three-pointer with 29.0 seconds left that was arguably Harden’s biggest shot of the game.

As mentioned before with each passing game Harden looks to be getting back to form which, when coupled with how Kevin Durant is currently playing, poses an immense challenge for any opponent.

And speaking of Durant, it was yet another wonderfully efficient scoring night for the Easy Money Sniper. As surprising as it may seem Durant had a fairly quiet 28 points on 11-17 shooting, but his loudest buckets came down the stretch of the fourth quarter. He hit a tough fadeaway with just over 3 minutes left and had a huge three-pointer on the very next possession.

It was his playmaking however that really won the game for Brooklyn. With just over a minute left in the game, Durant found Blake Griffin for a tough bucket inside. The next possession, with the double team converging, Durant found Harden at the top of the arc for the dagger. All in all, Durant would score or assist on 11 of Brooklyn’s final 15 points.

Despite how well Harden played all night, New Orleans consistently sent double teams at him which should tell you all you need to know about the level he is currently playing at.

The Nets will finish up their road trip Sunday against another young and scrappy Thunder squad who have won their last 4 in a row.

Justin Thomas is a graduate of Temple University. While there, he was an on-air sports talk host for W.H.I.P as well as sports reporter for the Temple yearbook. Over the past few years, Justin has written for a few publications including Sports Illustrated. On top of writing for ESNY, Justin is also a Senior Writer for NetsRepublic.com and has had work featured on Bleacher Report.