James Harden
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant reminded everyone that he’s the best in the business on Wednesday night.

Following a truly disappointing loss to the shorthanded Portland Trail Blazers on Monday the Nets were back in action Wednesday for a late-night matchup against the top-seeded Bulls.

Well, Brooklyn seemed to rebound pretty nicely as they used a dominating second half to annihilate the Bulls 138-112.

From the jump, the Nets offense looked like a completely different team than in Portland. Rookies Kessler Edwards and Day’Ron Sharpe got the start and it seemed to do the trick as the flow of the offense seemed smooth.

Recap

As the first half progressed the Nets and Bulls traded blows much as you’d expect from the top two seeds in the East. After taking a two-point advantage into halftime the Nets really turned it on in the third quarter.

Brooklyn was locked in on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Kessler Edwards was a big reason for this as he had a handful of steals and a block to ignite the team in the early stages of the quarter.


The Nets would put up 39 points in the frame while holding the Bulls to just 19. In fact, it was the biggest positive points differential for Brooklyn in any quarter this season. With the score tied at 71, the Nets would bust the game open with a 30-8 run over the final eight minutes of the quarter.

Fourth quarters hadn’t been kind to the Nets in the previous two meetings with Chicago however that wouldn’t be the case in this one. The Nets started the final period with the same intensity and furfur that they finished the third quarter with.

A 17-2 run over the first four minutes all but put the nail in the coffin for the East-leading Bulls. Hustle plays were a big catalyst for the run, the highlight of which was a loose ball in which two different Nets players got to, ending in a Kessler Edwards slam.

Player Spotlights

Leading the way for Brooklyn were two-thirds of the Big 3. Kevin Durant (27 points, nine assists) and James Harden (25 points, seven rebounds, 15 assists) had it going from the opening tip. Harden especially was involved early, not only getting his own shot but finding others for easy looks. The 27 points for Durant were also the most he has ever scored on 10 field goal attempts or fewer.

The two rookies Edwards and Sharpe would step up in a big way for Brooklyn. In his first career start, Day’Ron put up a 20-point, seven-rebound stat line and did a solid job against Nikola Vucevic in the post.

Sharpe also seemed to work really well in the pick and roll as he was the recipient of a few dimes from Harden and Durant.

Kessler Edwards played well in his 29 minutes of action too. Although he scored only nine points his impact was felt primarily on the defensive end where he was an irritant for Zach Lavine and DeMar DeRozan, particularly in that third quarter.

It was a big get-right game for Patty Mills as well. The Aussie has been in a shooting slump that not coincidentally has coincided with Brooklyn’s slump. Patty knocked down two triples to start the game and from then on seemed to be back to his old self.

He’d finish with 21 points cashing six three-pointers by night’s end. The partial return of Kyrie in road games means Patty can go back to his usual role off the bench.

And speaking of Kyrie it was a pretty off night for the superstar guard. Irving would score only nine points in the game on 4-for-10 shooting and just couldn’t really find a rhythm offensively.

After missing his first four shots he’d connect on three of his next four however he wasn’t a huge factor in Brooklyn’s huge third-quarter run. After a pair of 20+ point performances in his first two games back it’s not at all surprising that Kyrie looked human. He did enter the game questionable with a left ankle sprain.

For Brooklyn, this gets some semblance of the monkey off their back. Entering the game, the Nets were 0-8 against teams with .600 or better records. The prevailing narrative was that Brooklyn struggled when facing the elite teams in the league.

This was, however, the first time all season the Nets faced one of the elite teams in the league with all three of their superstars.

Despite Irving scoring less than 10 points and Joe Harris still recovering from ankle surgery the Nets still put up 138 points against the best team in the East record-wise. The 138 is also the most points the Nets have ever scored against the Bulls.

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.