Nets overtake Hawks for 10th straight win

ATLANTA — The Nets led their winning streak to 10, the best in the league this season. And it wasn’t pretty but gritty, earning a 108-107 win from behind over the Hawks at StateFarm Arena.

Kyrie Irving had 28 points, eight assists and took over late, while Kevin Durant added a season-high 26 points, 16 rebounds and eight more assists. And the two stars combined to harass Atlanta star Dejounte Murray – who was 24 – into missing a potential winner at the buzzer, thus preserving the rally.

“When you follow the game plan and it works, you start to believe more and more in what we’re doing every day,” Durant said. “I felt like we didn’t have an identity to start the season, then we started to understand in the last few weeks.

“You go into every game thinking that if we stick to this pattern and this structure that we have, we’ll be fine no matter what happens in the game; ups and downs, going down big, going up big. and lose our minds. Just knowing what we want to do every time we step on the ground keeps our minds at ease and we believe in everything Jacque [Vaughn] tell us.”

Kyrie Irving, who scored 28 points, leads Aaron Holiday in the Nets’ 108-107 victory over the Hawks.
USA TODAY Sports

The Nets (23-12) have won six straight on the road, tying the Knicks for the best such mark in the league. And they needed every second of it to do it, plus Irving and Durant’s score and Nic Claxton’s late-game defense (17 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks).

“We’re rolling,” Claxton told the Post. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s like you expect to win games. It’s really the first time in my career that I’ve had so much fun.

“Winning trumps everything, especially with everything that happened this summer. Everything that happened at the beginning of the year just to shut everyone up. Just being on the right track right now I still feel like a lot of people think it was a fluke, but we just have to take it game by game, control what we can control and keep winning.

They won this one, but it took everything they had.

Kevin Durant, who scored 26 points, drives to the basket in the Nets' win.
Kevin Durant, who scored 26 points, drives to the basket in the Nets’ win.
NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets rallied from 15 and it was tied at 104 after a Murray 3-pointer, but Durant gave them the lead with a short jump. Attached to 106-all, he untied it again.

And when Murray beat Irving from the dribble, the Nets spun and crumbled on him, Claxton forcing a miss and fending off the rebound with 47.3 seconds left.

“All defense in the first team. You need to step up and get some stops. It’s about as simple as that,” Claxton said. “When it’s time to stop, that’s what I have to do. What we have to do.”

Durant committed a turnover, but Irving – who had 15 points in the fourth quarter – fouled out to prevent Murray from getting a dunk on the breakaway. It turned out to be smart, as the Hawks goaltender missed one of his free throws, leaving the Nets ahead by one point.

Ben Simmons goes up for a dunk in the Nets win.
Ben Simmons goes up for a dunk in the Nets win.
NBAE via Getty Images

It ended like this.

“As teammates, we all want to be aggressive no matter what minutes we’re out there. But for me especially when the fourth quarter comes, it’s time to win; that’s all I really know,” Irving said. “When I’m there with this group, to start the fourth, [Durant]I’m resting a bit so I just need to increase my level of aggression and increase my efficiency. I am grateful to have the confidence of my teammates and the coaching staff.

The Nets somehow managed to lead by one point after a shoddy opening quarter, and 33-32 after a midrange Seth Curry pull-up 29 seconds into the second.

The Nets left 13 points unanswered falling behind by 12. The deficit swelled to 15 with 4:28 left in the half, after Bogdan Bogdanovic drilled a 3-point pull-up to bring the score to 58-43.

But they came back with a bang to win in the end.

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