Brooklyn showed just how dangerous they can be with their “Big Three” on Wednesday, manhandling the Bulls 138-112 in Chicago in a clash of the top teams in the NBA Eastern Conference.
The Nets had Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving on the floor for just the second game this season and the superstar trio didn’t disappoint.
Durant scored 27 points, Harden added 25 points and a season-high 16 assists and Irving chipped in with nine points in his third game of the season.
Irving made his debut in January after the Nets decided they would let the unvaccinated player join the team for road trips even though New York’s vaccine mandate means he can’t play home games in Brooklyn.
While Irving may still be finding his feet, Durant delivered another dominant performance, scoring 17 points in the third quarter.
The Bulls, trailing by two at halftime, pulled level at 71-71 early in the third, but the Nets outscored them 39-19 in the frame to take a 101-79 lead into the fourth.
Harden, back after missing one game with a hyper-extended knee, drained five three-pointers. Patty Mills made six from beyond the arc on the way to 21 points as the Nets — beaten twice already this season by Chicago — edged closer to the Bulls atop the East.
“These last 10 games we’ve been up and down, so we wanted to come out against a really good team who’ve been playing very, very good basketball and execute and play really good on both ends of the ball,” Harden said. “I think we did that.”
Miami, who went into the day third in the East, just a half-game behind the Nets, kept the pressure on with a 115-91 victory over the Hawks in Atlanta.
With stars Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler still sidelined, Tyler Herro led the Heat with 21 points — one of seven Miami players to score in double figures.
Herro added 11 assists and nine rebounds, and the Heat held Hawks star Trae Young to 15 points on four-of-15 shooting.
In the West, the Sacramento Kings put up 40 points in the third quarter on the way to a 125-116 victory over LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
All five Kings starters scored in double figures, led by De’Aaron Fox’s 29 points.
Sacramento connected on 55.1% of their shots from the field and out-scored the Lakers 70-42 in the paint.
The Lakers led 67-61 at halftime and were up 76-68 early in the third before the Kings rallied.
James scored 34 points, Malik Monk added 22 and Austin Reaves contributed 19 off the bench for the Lakers, but Russell Westbrook connected on just two of 14 shots from the field on the way to eight points.
Knicks halt Mavs
Knicks forward RJ Barrett starred again, scoring 32 points to lead New York to a 108-85 victory over Dallas that halted the Mavericks’ six-game winning streak.
The 21-year-old Barrett posted his second straight 30-point game, after scoring 31 in a rout of San Antonio on Monday.
Mitchell Robinson added a season-high 19 points as all five Knicks starters scored in double figures.
Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
But Dallas — who halted the Chicago Bulls’ nine-game winning streak on Sunday — struggled offensively.
Doncic connected on just eight of 23 shots from the field, and the Mavericks as a whole shot 41 percent overall. They made only eight of 37 three-point attempts, a dismal 21.6 percent success rate.
The Boston Celtics shrugged off their recent road woes with a 119-100 victory over the Pacers in Indianapolis.
Jaylen Brown scored 34 points and pulled down seven rebounds, and Jayson Tatum contributed 33 points for the Celtics, who had lost their last six games on the road.
Charlotte, led by 30 points from Gordon Hayward, beat the 76ers 109-98, ending a 16-game losing streak against Philadelphia that had stretched back to November 2016.