Nets head coach Steve Nash said on Thursday that their Christmas Day matchup against the Celtics would be “a strong test.” After a resounding 123-95 victory, they passed that test with flying colors.
“They were great,” Nash said of his team’s performance. “I thought maybe we got a little outplayed in the first half on the energy, hustle and physicality meter. And I thought our guys did a good job to regroup. At this stage, it’s good to see that kind of resolve. They picked up their intensity and desire, and guys were just hungry. It was beautiful to watch.”
Boston led by as many as seven in the second quarter and took a 54-51 lead into halftime. But Kevin Durant took over after the break, scoring the Nets’ first nine points of the second half and tossing a lob for a Deandre Jordan dunk to punctuate an 11-2 run to open up the third quarter.
“The ball just got into my hands and I tried to be aggressive going downhill,” said Durant, who finished with 29 points. “To end the first half, we were playing more of a spread look, playing pick-and-roll. So we had the ball more in [Kyrie Irving’s] hands. I felt like I was just waiting for more opportunities in the second half to just be aggressive to shoot and I was ready to knock some down.”
“It’s still impressive to watch after all these years,” Nash said of Durant. “His length, his skill, his mobility, his athleticism, it’s an incredible package. For him to have little runs like that is nothing for him in his mind.”
Irving led the way for the Nets with 37 points and has loved what he’s seen from his team over the first two games. But he also knows it’s a long season ahead.
“We’ve got 70 more games to go,” Irving said. “And it’s a free for all after that. We’ve got utilize this time to see different looks from different teams and see some things that will challenge is in the playoffs. We’re getting a feel for how the Eastern Conference is going to stack up. In the past, I’ve had such a rushing mentality to get through the regular season and into the playoffs, but right now I’m just grounded and balanced and not taking any day for granted.”
“We’ve got to stick with it, because other teams are going to get better as well,” Nash added. “You look around the league and teams had a really short camp. So we’ve got to continue to get better so at the end of the line we’re going to be right there competing with the best teams in the league.”
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