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HARDENED NETS: Harden displays trip-dub in debut as new-look Nets overpower Magic

 By Girald Gaston

PHOTO: SPIN PH/AP

Considered as a title contender already before the season, the Brooklyn Nets might have become more firm with its new addition.

James Harden asserted his sorcery with a triple-double special on his Brooklyn Nets debut, to overcome the skidding Orlando Magic, 122-115, Saturday night at Barclays Center, Brooklyn.

After a sluggish start, Harden managed to post 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds, in his first time donning the Nets jersey, to improve their season record to 8-6.

The former Houston guard was cleared to play Saturday afternoon after all the teams from the four-team blockbuster trade had completed their physicals. 

He wasn't able to join any practice of Brooklyn before the game, but the rest was history as he became the first player in Nets franchise to record a trip-dub in debut. He was also the first in NBA to do such feat with 30-point output.

Harden also had nine turnovers, and his coach Steve Nash lovingly roasted him.

"Wow, almost a quadruple-double! he's a world class basketball player."

Kevin Durant was the major recipient of Harden's dimes, finishing with season-high 42 points, to hike his season average to 30.7, his highest since the league-leading 32 per game and MVP season on 2014.

That was two years after his magical stint with James Harden to reach the NBA Finals, and they could possibly duplicate it this year with Nets. However, they are still missing the service of Kyrie Irving for the sixth straight time, after leaving for personal reasons.

This year's NBA wonder Nikola Vucevic had 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to spearhead the short-handed Magic, who lost their fifth straight.

Harden couldn't find his mark until the last 6.8 seconds of the first quarter after hitting a pair from the stripes. He scored his first field goal on the 10:07 mark of second frame, with a flamboyant floater off a euro-step. He finished the half with 8-7-5 tally.

The 2018 MVP shrugged off his early struggles as he tallied 11 points alone in the third chapter. He ended the quarter on a high note with his signature stepback trey, 84-83. He also went back on his foul-fetching tactic and finished with 13-16 clip from the charities.

After being doubted that he will bring his 'toxicity' from the Rockets to Nets, Harden started the pre-game on a smile, and even hyped up KD from the sidelines on the second quarter after blewing a lay-up.

He vowed that his mission is just getting started, in a video clip of Brooklyn Nets heading to the locker room after the game.

"That's the first of many more." 

The Nets will host the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Magic will visit the New York Knicks, at same night on Monday.


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