Trae Young had recently nailed a 3-pointer followed by a brand name slippery layup to slice the Atlanta Hawks’ shortage to one point with a little more than three minutes to play.
Yet, the next time down the floor, Young watched Kevin Durant squat in a defensive stance before him. Durant’s excellent defense on Young over those most recent three minutes was key in the Brooklyn Nets’ 113-105 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks Friday night.
“Just taking on the matchup was cool,” said Durant, who finished with 31 points. “These small point guards man, they’re so crafty and quick. It’s also fun taking on that matchup, he’s one of the best players in the league.”
The Hawks attempted to run activities to get Durant off of Young. However, Durant actually constrained the Hawks’ star into a turnover, then, at that point, hindered Young’s shot experiencing significant change and effectively safeguarded one more drive as the Nets completed the game on a 10-3 run.
At a certain point, Durant banged into Young as he was setting a screen and was required a foul. Youthful went chest-to-chest with Durant before authorities stepped in and called twofold specialized fouls.
“I was a little too physical there with that action and I kind of pushed him a bit,” said Durant, who said he’s known Young since the point guard was 10 years old. “He wanted me to get up out of his space and I respect that. Just a part of the game. Nothing personal, it’s all competition.”
Said Young about the moment: “We’re good.” Young had 31 points of his own in the game but was just 2-of-7 shooting in the fourth quarter with two turnovers.
After not playing him in the principal half, Nets mentor Steve Nash went with Nic Claxton at focus rather than LaMarcus Aldridge down the stretch. His length alongside Durant and James Johnson stuffed the Hawks, who shot only 6-of-22 and oversaw only 14 focuses in the final quarter.
Recently, the Nets finished a rebound win in Dallas by holding the Mavericks to only 13 focuses in the final quarter. Brooklyn has now won seven of its last eight street games.
“[Defense provides] ultimate confidence,” said James Harden, who had 20 points and 11 assists. “We’ve been having a lot of ups and downs, a lot of lineups and whatnot. We’ve just been trying to figure it out. It felt really good to just guard.”