PORTLAND, Ore. -- Who thought that the Nets – a team with more negative story lines than a season-ending episode of Succession – could put together a game like they did Thursday night when they needed it most?
Getting contributions for almost every corner of their roster, the Nets scored their most important win of the season when Royce O’Neale tipped in Kevin Durant’s off balance fade away to give the Nets a 109-107 win over the Trail Blazers.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 35 points and was one of six Nets to finish in double figures.
O’Neale finished with the first triple double of his career, finishing with 11 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds.
“Kevin got a good look and I was just going to crash the glass just in case we missed it,” said O’Neale. “I didn’t always hit my shots, but I guess I hit the shot that mattered the most.”
Yuta Watanabe was the second-leading scorer with 20 points and seven rebounds. Joe Harris and Ben Simmons each had 15 points.
Perhaps the most important contribution came from Simmons who played his best game as a Net. Simmons came off the bench to score 15 points, grab 12 rebounds and make seven assists. Most importantly, when Portland decided to start fouling the notoriously poor foul shooter, he hit three of four free throws down the stretch.
“Three-for-four in crunch time. We needed that,” Durant said of Simmons. “I’m excited about the way he played tonight…..It obviously was a great win.”
The win couldn’t have come at a better time. The Nets (7-9) had just suffered two bad losses to the Lakers and the Kings. In the loss to the Kings on Tuesday night, the team gave up 153 points.
The Nets now head home having gone 2-2 on this trip. They also head home knowing that suspended point guard Kyrie Irving is likely to rejoin the team soon, perhaps as early as Sunday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Barclays Center.
“If coach could draw up a game that ended with a win at the last moment, that was it,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We didn’t panic. A group grows that way.”
The Trail Blazers were led by Damian Lillard’s 25 points and Anfernee Simons’ 24. Shaedon Sharpe scored 20 points and was 4-for-5 from three-point range.