Kyrie Irving and the Nets overcome a 19-point deficit to beat the Pacers.
The start wasn’t pretty, but the finish was beautiful. For a few minutes early on, Kyrie Irving looked the part of someone who hasn’t played in a competitive game in months. For 2.5 quarters, the Brooklyn Nets looked like a team that wanted no part of playing defense.
Irving’s talent eventually took over, as did the Nets. It took a full quarter for Irving to knock down his first bucket, but it eventually came in the second quarter. That basket was the first of many for the once-exiled star as he finished with 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting.
— Danny Small (@dwsmall8) January 6, 2022
Irving came alive in the fourth quarter with 10 points, but it was Kevin Durant who spurred Brooklyn’s rally from down 19 points in the second half. Is it fair to say that Durant went for a quiet 39 points? And don’t forget about his eight rebounds and seven assists.
Irving’s debut took center stage early. The first play of the game was a designed iso for Irving which Nets coach Steve Nash described as a “welcome back gift.” He missed the shot, but it’s the thought that counts right?
All eyes shifted from Irving to Lance Stephenson, who seems to have nine lives in Indiana. The Brooklyn native electrified the Pacers crowd with 20 points in the first quarter en route to a casual 30-piece.
But even with the focus and attention on Irving and Stephenson, Durant is inevitable. James Harden and Durant played over 40 minutes. In fact, KD played the entirety of the second half.
Calling it “desperation” is a bridge too far, but it’s clear that Nash really wanted to win Irving’s first game. With everyone healthy, there’s nothing wrong with pushing the stars a little extra. This win snaps a three-game losing streak for Brooklyn, which means this game was important for a couple of reasons.
Nash can worry about load management, staggering his rotations, and figuring out how to adjust between home and road games another time.
The Nets are 1-0 with Kyrie Irving in the lineup.
Kyrie Irving: It felt amazing man. pic.twitter.com/ZseqLp7oBY
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) January 6, 2022