The Nets led once early and never again en route to a 115-104 preseason loss against the 76ers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Five things to know from Monday’s game
1. Kyrie Irving, whose vaccination status remains in question about a week before the regular-season opener, did not travel with Brooklyn to Philadelphia. Second-year head coach Steve Nash said during a pregame news conference that the Nets were “just trying to navigate this thing” as “new information seems to come in every week.” Without Irving, the Nets rolled with a starting five that featured Kevin Durant, James Harden, Joe Harris, Blake Griffin and Bruce Brown.
2. The Nets jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Durant’s three-pointer 28 seconds in, but the 76ers answered back with a triple of their own on the other end via Isaiah Joe and they never trailed again. Philadelphia held a 37-25 lead through the first quarter, and it extended its advantage to 68-49 at halftime. The margin ballooned to a largest of 29, a 102-73 gap with 11:34 left in the fourth quarter.
3. While defense was nonexistent for the Nets, who faced a 76ers team without Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons, Durant and Harden combined to put together a promising performance on offense with the regular season one week away. Through three quarters, Durant dropped a team-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including a 2-for-3 clip from long range and 3-for-4 mark at the free-throw line, plus seven rebounds and one assist in 26 minutes.
Harden, on the other hand, was close behind Durant as an 8-of-14 shooter and went 3 for 7 from downtown while making his two free-throw attempts. He dished four assists and grabbed four rebounds in 28 minutes, a positive sign after his durability was an issue during the 2020-21 season and playoffs especially.
4. Meanwhile, Harris had an outing that seemed to mirror the sharpshooter’s disappointing postseason earlier this year. He contributed just three points in 27 minutes, going 1 for 4 from the field — all beyond the three-point arc.
5. The game was out of reach in the fourth quarter, but the bench showed some fight for the Nets, namely fourth-year pro Jevon Carter and rookie Cam Thomas. Carter (16) and Thomas (10) scored a combined 26 points as the Nets cuts the 76ers’ lead down from 29 to 10, 114-104, with 58.9 seconds left. Thomas, a first-round pick as the 2021 NBA Draft’s No. 27 overall pick out of LSU, was a perfect 4 of 4 from the floor with a 2-for-2 clip on three-pointers in 12 minutes off the bench.
The Nets (2-1) return home to Brooklyn and prepare for their preseason finale Friday at Barclays Center, where they host the Minnesota Timberwolves (2-0) in a 7:30 p.m. tip-off.