Brooklyn Nets: Standout bench play helped James Harden close out Suns

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 16: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 16: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Steve Nash and the Brooklyn Nets could’ve rolled over and let the Phoenix Suns grab a free win after it was announced that both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were not going to play in Tuesday night’s contest. When they went down by 24 points at the end of the first half, it looked like James Harden and the Nets were destined for yet another loss.

However, the Nets furiously rallied in the fourth quarter, totaling 40 points and stunning Devin Booker’s Suns while pushing their record to 18-12 on the season. The win was accentuated by Harden ripping Phoenix’s heart out with a three to take the lead near the end of the game.

While Harden’s performance was spectacular, one player alone doesn’t mount a comeback that ferocious. Instead, Harden was supported by his much-maligned bench, who played their best collective game of the season while Durant and Irving served as little more than cheerleaders.

Harden’s 38 points and clutch shot to put the Nets ahead will obviously be the main story, but his supporting cast did an equally impressive job. Players like Jeff Green, Tyler Johnson, and Landry Shamet all put together some of their best performances of the 2020-21 campaign in Brooklyn’s second-largest comeback in franchise history.

The Brooklyn Nets bench helped get James Harden in a position to win the game.

On a night where the Nets had just one of their three star scorers, the bench was able to pick up the slack. Green put up 18 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, while Johnson, who started the season as someone who only got into the game in mop-up duty, provided 17 points in the backcourt. Shamet, who looks much more confident of late, added 13 points.

Harden, who averaged 36.1 and 34.3 points per game in a full season in Houston, totaling 38 points without a viable second scoring option isn’t groundbreaking in and of itself. But a bench that has been singled out as the cause of most of Brooklyn’s problems playing the way that they did against a very good Suns team was simply extraordinary.

Whenever one or more of the Big Three has to sit a game out, the Nets of old would’ve thrown their hands up and taken the L.

Now that the bench has started to show some signs of life, Brooklyn proved that they can take down some of the best teams in the league despite being on the road and playing without their best players.

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