Nets Notes: Big Three, Irving, Duke, Mills

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the trade that brought James Harden to Brooklyn and gave the Nets an imposing Big Three of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. That trio hasn’t been on the court together very often, but on Wednesday they provided a reminder of how dominant they can be, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

With all three players in the lineup for only the second time this season, Brooklyn broke open a close game in the third quarter and smashed the East-leading Bulls by 26 points. Harden scored 25 points and handed out 16 assists, while Durant put up 27 points and nine assists. Irving, playing his third game of the season, had just nine points but created plenty of scoring opportunities for his teammates.

“Since I’ve been here it’s been crazy, lots of ups and downs,” Harden said. “Nah. Like, we’re that good. We just haven’t had enough of it. Last we had 15 games maybe together, and this year only two. We haven’t had a real season to where y’all can consistently see how great we can be. And we’re working on that. We need to get to that point.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • During a SportsCenter appearance Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski cited “real optimism within the organization” that Irving will be a full-time player by the end of the season (Twitter link from Anthony Puccio). Irving isn’t permitted to play home games because he hasn’t complied with New York City’s vaccine mandate, but Woj suggests that either the mandate could be relaxed by spring or the Nets may be willing to pay a fine for each home game that Irving appears in.
    [Note: Wojnarowski later clarified that paying fines for Irving to play home games likely wouldn’t be a viable option.]
  • After being passed over in the July draft, David Duke Jr. worked his way into Brooklyn’s starting lineup, notes an article on NetsDaily. A defensive specialist with three-point range, Duke started five straight games before Wednesday. “When it got to the mid-second round, I got a call from my agent who gave me some scenarios with multiple teams and it was up to me to decide. Having faith in God, and truly believing in myself, I felt the situation with Brooklyn was the best for me based on my pre-draft experience with them,” Duke said. “Although I felt overlooked going undrafted, I knew wherever I ended up I would show what I bring to the table and would be just fine.”
  • Tennis star Novak Djokovic has been in the headlines for his standoff with the Australian government over the COVID-19 vaccine. Nets guard Patty Mills, who has experienced the effects of the regulations in his home country, said he understands and supports those rules, Lewis writes in a separate story. “I won an Olympic medal and quarantined in a hotel by myself for two weeks,” Mills said. “As much as a buzzkill as it was to (not) go home and celebrate with family and friends, I’ve done it.”
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