Le Pays De France - Nets rout Sixers after huge NBA trade as Harden humbled

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Nets rout Sixers after huge NBA trade as Harden humbled
Nets rout Sixers after huge NBA trade as Harden humbled

Nets rout Sixers after huge NBA trade as Harden humbled

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving led the Brooklyn Nets to a blowout 129-100 victory over ex-teammate James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers in an NBA grudge match on Thursday.

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Durant scored 25 points and had 14 rebounds and Irving added 24 points in the clash at Philadelphia, the first meeting of the clubs since their blockbuster NBA trade deadline deal last month sent Harden to the 76ers with Ben Simmons and Seth Curry going to Brooklyn in exchange.

A humbled Harden, swarmed by Nets defenders most of the night, managed only 11 points on 3-of-17 shooting and took a few bumps defensively from Durant. Brooklyn hit only 30-of-93 shots from the floor, a woeful 32.3%.

"We know this is a fast-paced team," Durant said. "I thought we did a good job of running them. We slowed them down. It was hard for them to get into a rhythm."

Curry scored 22 points for Brooklyn but Australian guard Simmons hasn't played for the Nets with a sore back.

Simmons, who didn't play for the 76ers this season over mental issues, was greeted with a chorus of boos from Philadelphia fans when he walked onto the court with the Nets.

He was booed again sitting on the bench when he picked up a loose ball that went out of bounds, but lots of 76ers fans left early.

"He knew we had his back," Durant said of Simmons. "But it felt good to quiet them down. We didn't hear no more Ben Simmons chants at the end."

Both Simmons and Harden wanted out of their situations and the swap by divisional rivals ensured they would see each other in the fight for Eastern Conference playoff position.

Brooklyn never trailed and set a season high with 15 blocked shots, dominating off the fast break and off turnovers. Brooklyn led 102-70 after three quarters, took the lead as large as 36 points and both benches were cleared for the final minutes.

The Nets dominated the first half, leading by as many as 24 points on the way to a 72-51 halftime advantage, scoring the most points allowed in a half by Philadelphia all season.

Brooklyn made a special effort to silence Harden and also frustrated Cameroon big man Joel Embiid, who had a game-high 27 points but went 5-of-17 from the floor.

The 76ers shot only 27.1% in the first half. Harden missed 12 of his first 13 shots and hit only 3-of-15 in the half for 11 points. Embiid had 21 points and eight rebounds in the first half but went 3-of-9 from the floor and 15-of-19 from the free throw line.

- Harden goes to third -

Harden's 3-pointer in the first quarter pushed him into third on the all-time NBA 3-pointers list with 2,561. That still left him 551 behind the all-time record owned by Golden State sharpshooter Stephen Curry.

The Nets connected on 64.4% from the floor in the first half, with Durant netting 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting with nine rebounds and five assists. He made his first five shots for 11 points in the first quarter alone.

Irving, whose unvaccinated Covid-19 status keeps him from playing home games, had 16 first-half points, shooting 6-of-10 from the floor and 4-of-7 from 3-point range.

Curry added 15 first half points on 6-of-9 shooting, 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and shared a few words with ex-teammates several times.

The Nets improved to 34-33 while the 76ers fell to 40-25.

Thursday's later game found the Golden State Warriors (44-22) at Denver (40-26), with the Nuggets having won four in a row and nine of 10. The Warriors have lost seven of their past nine and nine of their past 12.