So Monday night’s 104-90 victory over the Wizards at Barclays Center had to be music to Nash’s ears.
One night after scoring 37 points in the second half in a home-opening loss to Charlotte, the Nets scored 38 in the first quarter alone.
They led by as many as 25 as early as the halfway point of the second quarter. And, unlike on Sunday, the Nets did not fritter away a big lead as they improved to 2-2.
Kevin Durant scored 25 points and hit the 24,000-point plateau. Patty Mills hit five three-pointers and scored 21 points off the bench.
James Harden’s struggles continued as he scored 14, but he also had nine assists and six rebounds.
"I thought it was a great response from the Charlotte game," Nash said. "The guys responded and I was proud of their performance tonight. Just the attitude and effort. They came to play. The competitive spirit was there. The discipline was there."
Washington’s Spencer Dinwiddie scored 10 points and shot 3-for-13 in his return to Brooklyn after five seasons with the Nets, who gave him a video tribute during an early timeout.
Mills came off the bench to hit 3 of 5 three-pointers and score 11 points as the Nets used a 13-0 run to take a 38-20 lead in the first quarter. Mills hit a three with 8.7 seconds left in the quarter to punctuate the Nets’ offensive explosion.
Durant scored 10 of his 18 first-half points in the second quarter. His calm and silky smooth pullup three-pointer with 3.8 seconds left gave the Nets a 59-42 advantage at the half.
That three also gave Durant 24,000 career points in his 888th game. He became the 26th NBA player (31st including ABA players) to reach 24,000.
Washington used a 7-0 run to open the second half and got to within nine later in the third quarter as Barclays went silent.
But Harden converted a four-point play (his first free throw attempt of the night) to make it 67-52 with 6:06 left in the quarter. Mills’ ensuing three-pointer built the lead back up to 18 and the Nets were able to maintain their dominance. The score was 82-64 entering the fourth.
"I liked how when we didn’t make shots to start the second half, we still got stops," Durant said. "This team was playing with confidence. We came in on the second night of a back-to-back and imposed our will the whole game."
The shooting gets the headlines, of course, but Nash said before the game he wants the Nets to remember the little things that win games.
For example, with the Nets comfortably ahead in the fourth, Mills stole a rebound out of the hands of Bradley Beal under the Wizards basket and hit a layup.
Blake Griffin (two points in 18:58) started after sitting out Sunday’s game as the Nets ease him into back-to-backs. LaMarcus Aldridge was inactive after playing on Sunday.
Beal, who has declined to get vaccinated against COVID-19, returned from a missed game because of a hip injury and scored 19.
Beal, who has declined to get vaccinated against COVID-19, is allowed to play in New York City as a visitor according to city regulations. But Kyrie Irving is not allowed to play in New York City as an unvaccinated member of the Nets.
Barclays Center officials were forced on Sunday to briefly shut the arena’s doors before the Nets-Hornets game after a group of protesters — some chanting "Let Kyrie Play" — pushed past metal barricades and stormed the main entrance.
The protesters did not return on Monday.