The Brooklyn Nets’ complicated start to the season was confirmed Thursday evening on the floor of the Barclays Center. Kevin Durant and his teammates were beaten for the fourth time in five matches. But unlike the previous three setbacks, the Nets fought to the end as Dallas only snatched victory after overtime (129-125 ap). But the Brooklynites came across a gala Luka Doncic. The Slovenian signed a game with 41 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds, for a monstrous triple double. More importantly, he put his teammates in orbit in overtime distributing four assists in five minutes including three for award-winning baskets (plus four personal points in those five extra minutes).
This was necessary to respond to the performances of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The Nets point guard was untenable for much of the night, attacking the circle and dizzying defenders like only he can. Despite some waste (5 of 14 three-pointers in particular), Irving finished the game with 39 points, darkening his statistics sheet with 7 rebounds, 4 assists but also 4 blocks and 3 steals. Durant has, him, demonstrated efficiency with 37 points on 21 shots (against 31 for Irving), 5 assists and 3 rebounds.
Beyond Doncic’s performance, it was the Dallas bench (still deprived of Frenchman Frank Ntilikina, injured in an ankle) that made the difference. While most incumbents have been discreet (only Spencer Dinwiddie the former Net has passed the ten-point mark in the major five excluding Doncic), four players who came off the bench posted double-digit scores: Tim Hardaway Jr ( 18), Maxi Kleber (15), Christian Wood (11) and Josh Green (10). Better still, this quartet shot at 70% three-point success (12 of 17). This saved the Mavericks from regretting their lack of rebounding presence (13 offensive rebounds for Brooklyn and 16 points on second chances) and their absences in transition (31 points on the counterattack for the Nets).
Note that the end of the meeting was marked by the throwing of a drink by a fan in the direction of Luka Doncic, then on the floor, who was not touched. There were 1:40 left in overtime, with Dallas eight points clear at that time. Kevin Durant was on the free-throw line and the Slovenian was waiting near his bench when the cup, still filled with liquid, came crashing down on the field. The floor was cleaned for a few minutes before the match ended without further incident.