Collin Sexton scored 22 of his game-high 42 points in double overtime to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to an upset over the Brooklyn Nets and the debut of their Big 3. Sexton spoiled the return of Kyrie Irving, who played in his first game with the Nets in two weeks after missing time due to “personal reasons.”
A passive James Harden didn’t score his first points until late in the second quarter. Overall, Harden shot 6-for-14 from the field and posted a triple-double with 21 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds in the loss. The majority of his points came in the second half and overtime.
Kevin Durant missed a triple-double by two assists with 38 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists.
|BROOKLYN NETS’ BIG 3|
- Kevin Durant: 38 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists
- Kyrie Irving: 37 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists
- James Harden: 21 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists
The Nets bench scored just 10 points, with Joe Harris scoring only six points in 42 minutes. He did, however, haul down nine rebounds during a hard-nosed defensive effort. Overall, the Nets’ reserves shot 4-for-24 from the field, including 2-for-11 from 3-point range.
The Nets slipped to 9-7 on the season and missed a chance to reach the 10-win plateau with the LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Utah Jazz, and Philadelphia 76ers as the NBA’s elite teams.
Brooklyn’s Big 3 Debut Falls Flat
Harden played his first two games with the Brooklyn Nets without Irving, and the Nets were 2-0, including a two-point victory over Greek Freak and the Milwaukee Bucks. As soon as Irving returned, the Nets were picked off.
Harden and Durant have a previous relationship as teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder. In Harden’s first two games in Brooklyn, the two fell into their old routine, which produced positive results and a 2-0 record.
The Big 3’s debut was spoiled by the Cavs and Sexton’s career-high night.
“We had breakdowns all over the place,” said Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash. “So, we’ve got a lot of work to do and know that. With a very offensive team right now, so we have to find ways to defend, to get connected, to be on the same page.”
My high school coach would lose his mind if the point guard jacked up twice as many shots as the shooting guard. Irving took a team-high 28 shots, including eight treys. Harden took only 14 shots, and just six from beyond the arc. Durant took 25 shots from the floor, including nine from downtown. Durant also went 11-for-13 from the charity stripe en route to a team-high 38 points.
Irving missed two weeks of the season and finally chatted with the media about his absence. The coy Irving alluded to mental health issues, and that he needed time to step back to catch a breather.
“Always playing the game that I love, I am grateful,” Irving said in a post-game interview. “I never take it for granted. Then also to be playing with Kevin Durant, James Harden, just those names alone right now, just were having some fun.”
HARDEN FROM RAAAAANGE pic.twitter.com/zzBXo7CJju
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) January 21, 2021
Monstrous Night from Collin Sexton
The Cavs selected Sexton with the #8 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. He took over as the starting point guard in his rookie season, where he averaged 16.7 points. Last season, Sexton increased his average to 20.8 points and three assists per game. This season, in just nine games of action, Sexton posted a career-high 27 points, 3.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.
Against Brooklyn, Sexton exploded for a career-high 42 points. He led a balanced attack from an eight-man rotation. Seven players scored 12 or more points. Isaac Okoro, a rookie guard, only scored eight points, but he didn’t take many shots.
“He’s not a regular NBA player, he’s a dynamic scorer,” said Cleveland head coach JB Bickerstaff.
“Collin was just on fire tonight,” said teammate said Cedi Osman. “Unconscious. He was out of his mind. Making all shots. It was beautiful to watch, man.”
Sexton wears jersey #2, which is the same number that Irving wore for the Cavs.
“It was good to go against Kyrie tonight,” admitted Sexton. “I definitely accepted the challenge, and I knew it wasn’t gonna be easy. Just the simple fact that it’s Kyrie, he’s coming at you each and every night ready to go, and tonight was a good one.”
Sexton scored 22 of his game-high 42 points during the dual overtime frames. At one point in OT, Sexton accounted for 20 straight points for Cleveland.
Cleveland backup center Jarret Allen scored 12 points and added 11 rebounds off the bench against his former team. Allen was involved in the four-team trade that brought Harden to Brooklyn via Houston.