The Nets’ Big 3 fires on all cylinders in victory over the Bulls

CHICAGO – This is the Nets team we all thought we got.

The Big 3 were back and clicked on all cylinders last night as the Nets posted their most impressive win of the season with a 138-112 destruction of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on Wednesday night.

The victory over the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference sent a clear message to the rest of the league and was a confidence booster for a Nets team that had fought all season against the elite competition.

The Nets (26-14) are now just 1 1/2 games behind the Bulls in the East.

The win was the Nets’ first this season against what can be considered an elite team. The Nets entered the match with a record of 0-8 against teams occupying the top four spots in the Eastern and Western Conferences, including two previous losses to the Bulls.

All the previous losses, however, had come without Irving on the floor.

Irving, who is unvaccinated, is not eligible to play at Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden and in Canada due to local ordinances requiring the vaccine. The Nets initially chose not to have a part-time player, but then reversed their position in December, welcoming him back to matches on the road.

Wednesday night was Irving’s third match since joining the team again, and the match underscored the fact that they are a much better team with him than without him.

Although Irving only scored nine points, his addition gave the Nets the scam they had lacked against good teams earlier in the season.

Kevin Durant scored 17 of his high 27 points in the third quarter as the Nets took control of what had been a close game, surpassing the Bulls, 39-19, in the period.

James Harden finished the match with 25 points and 16 assists.

Rookie Day’Ron Sharpe, in his first career start, scored 20 points on 10 of 14 shots. And Patty Mills, who had shot 9-for-40 over the last five games when playing heavy minutes began to wear on him, scored 21 on 7-for-10 shooting.

Chicago was led by Zach LaVines 22 points.

It just marked the second time this season that Big 3 had been on the floor at the same time. In fact, it was only the 16th time they played together, all the way back to when James Harden came to Irving and Durant last season, as they have been limited by injuries, COVID-19 and COVID-19 rules.

“Every time the three get on the field together, it’s exciting for us,” Nets coach Steve Nash said before the game.

Exciting and productive. The Nets are now 13-3 when Durant, Irving and Harden all play. That includes a record of 5-1 in last year’s playoffs.

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