Harden scores 38 as Nets overcome huge deficit to shock Suns

Published February 17, 2021, 3:56 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets shoots the ball during the game against the Phoenix Suns on February 16, 2021 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

James Harden spearheaded the biggest halftime comeback in franchise history, scoring 38 points and the short-handed Brooklyn Nets rallied to stun the Phoenix Suns 128-124 on Tuesday.

Harden caught fire late as the Nets stormed back from a 21-point halftime deficit to snap the Suns’ season-best win streak at six NBA games. The Nets trailed by as much as 24 points.

“We had nothing to lose but to fight back,” said Nets coach Steve Nash. “We took advantage of outstanding defense in our own end and James made some big shots.”

Harden added 11 assists, Joe Harris scored 22 points and Jeff Green scored 18 points off for the Nets, who won their fourth consecutive game despite playing without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Durant missed his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury and Irving is bothered by a sore back. 

Chris Paul scored 17 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and Devin Booker added 22 with seven assists in the loss in front of a pandemic limited crowd of 3,000 fans at the PHX Arena in Arizona. 

It looked like the red-hot Suns might post a wire-to-wire win until Brooklyn took its first lead on a Harden three-pointer with 31 seconds remaining in the fourth. 

“The first five to six minutes of the third quarter our offense was in the mud,” said Suns coach Monty Williams. “We gave one of the best offensive teams in the league life.”

The game marked the return of first-year coach Nash to Phoenix, where he earned MVP honors in 2005 and 2006.

Lillard shines

Elsewhere, Damian Lillard drained three clutch three-pointers in four possessions late in the final quarter as the Portland Trail Blazers squandered a 24-point lead but held on to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-104.

Lillard finished with 31 points for the Blazers, who posted their fifth consecutive victory.

Lillard drained the first of his three threes with just over four minutes left in the final quarter as he and Gary Trent combined to score 12 unanswered points to extend the Blazers win streak to five straight games.

Lillard scored 14 of his 31 in the fourth quarter as Portland made 20 baskets from beyond the arc. He also had seven rebounds  at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma.

Even Lillard’s teammates were in awe.

“I went up to him and told him, ‘You crazy, man!'” Enes Kanter said. “He’s like a cheat code. I’ve never seen anything like this before and I’ve played with some great, great players.”

Trent added 19 points and Kanter had a game-high 21 rebounds. 

Luguentz Dort delivered 23 points and Hamidou Diallo came off the bench to score 17 for the Thunder, who took the lead halfway through the fourth after holding Portland to two-of-13 shooting to begin the final quarter. 

“I feel like it just takes will and fight,” Diallo said. “And I feel like with this group of guys that we have here, we’re never going to give up, no matter what we’re down.”

In Minneapolis, LeBron James sparked the offense with 30 points and 13 rebounds as the reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers shook off the absence of Anthony Davis to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-104.

Lakers also got 24 points from Dennis Schroder and 17 off the bench from Montrezl Harrell in the win.

“We’re not expecting one person to try to pick up A.D.’s productivity. Nobody’s going to be able to do that. He just brings too much to the table. But we all can do more,” James said.

Rookie Anthony Edwards had 28 while Karl-Anthony Towns had 15 for the Wolves. Malik Beasley finished with 11 on four-of-15 shooting for the Timberwolves, who have won just one of their last six games.

In four games since Towns returned from a 13-game absence following a positive Covid-19 test, he is averaging over 20 points.

Seven time all-star Davis re-injured his right Achilles during Sunday’s 122-105 loss at Denver. He is expected to be out a month.

In Boston, Jaylen Brown scored 27 points, Jayson Tatum had 21 points  eight assists, and the Boston Celtics fended off a 43-point performance by Nikola Jokic to beat the Denver Nuggets 112-99. 

Kemba Walker added 17 points for the Celtics, who have lost four of their last five contests. 

Also, Zion Williamson finished with 31 points as the New Orleans Pelicans defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 144-113 to salvage the final contest of a four-game road swing.