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Nets' Kyrie Irving makes strong statements on court and Instagram

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Nets takes a

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Nets takes a shot for a basket late during the fourth quarter against the Miami Heat at Barclays Center on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Nets were coming off back-to-back losses in Cleveland, and skepticism about the Big 3 experiment with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving was mounting on social media. So Irving went on Instagram and boldly predicted that the Nets will be fighting for an NBA title in the end.

Then he backed it up by scoring 18 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter of a 128-124 win over the Heat on Saturday night at Barclays Center. In fact, the Nets’ three superstars totaled all 32 of the team’s fourth-quarter points. Durant had 31 points and Harden added 12 plus 11 assists.

The two teams will play again Monday night in Brooklyn.

On Instagram, Irving wrote: "We will be on that stage. The stage where the ‘best of the best’ meet . . . You know, the main stage. Where those who can do, and those who cannot talk about those who are doing. If you roll with us, great. Let’s rock. If you’re not ……..You know you wanna talk about our greatness anyway!!!!!!!"

Durant responded by posting: "Speak on it king!!"

Explaining his intent after the first victory by the Big 3 in their second full outing together, Irving said, "I know we have supporters and we have a lot of doubters. So being on this stage, it is the main stage, but you know the main stage I’m talking about. We’re just putting it out as a goal of ours that we came together and this team, we’re focused on that.

"It was my time to be the media, and you got a statement. I’m grateful it was read with a balanced sentiment because I’m rocking with everybody in that locker room, and I know it’s the same for me."

Irving was brilliant in the fourth quarter, shooting 6-for-7 and sinking all three of his three-point attempts. Durant and Harden added seven points each in the period. Irving said it was "winning time," and he simply found ways to attack the Heat’s zone defense.

He also lauded the unselfishness the Nets are showing in terms of moving the ball and sacrificing. "The energy we have in this locker room is to be selfless and to show respect for each other’s games, but to still hold each other accountable," he said. "A lot of us have been very successful as individuals on certain teams, but we’ve never been together this point. I think we should relish this opportunity . . . It’s not every day you see this collection of guys playing together in NBA history, so we want to take full advantage of that."

Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer the previous three seasons, has two triple-doubles and three double-doubles in five games with the Nets, including five double-digit-assist games. He has played a minimum of 37 minutes.

"It feels good not to have to score so much to give ourselves a chance to win a game," said Harden, who is averaging 23.6 points as a Net. "I can go out there and just be a playmaker and shoot my shot when it’s available. So that’s a change, impacting the game in other ways than just scoring and just trying to be the best player I can be every single night."

As for Durant, he is averaging a career-high 31.2 points and has scored at least 20 points in all 13 games he has played, a career-high streak.

"Everybody plays with the pass here, so guys are going to get looks all game, especially if you play a lot of minutes," Durant said. "I’m trying to be smart and efficient in my movements out there. I think I can definitely get better, but I’m moving in the right direction."

New York Sports