James Harden told reporters after Thursday night’s loss to the Thunder that the team didn’t arrive home from Chicago until 5 a.m. on Thursday morning, and he was unable to shut his eyes for bed until 7:30 a.m.
Twelve hours later, the Nets were tipping off against Oklahoma City at the Barclays Center.
“Tired,” Harden laughed when asked how he felt after the game, the team’s second in as many days after tipping off in Chicago at 10 p.m. the night before.
The past two days have been the continuation of a demanding travel schedule for Brooklyn, as the team has played five home games and three road games since the calendar flipped to 2022, with two back-to-backs that both had one home and one away game. Just this past weekend, the Nets played an overtime game against San Antonio the night of Jan. 9 before taking a long flight to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers the very next night.
“I didn't know it was like that, with traveling,” Day’Ron Sharpe said. “I'm in the league, so I've got to do what I've got to do. I'm not complaining. I'm happy to play.”
The past month for the Nets has included a COVID-19 outbreak, the return of Kyrie Irving in a part-time role, and plenty of air miles. Brooklyn has still shown flashes of its brilliance, blowing out the top-seeded Bulls on the road on Wednesday night, but overall, the team is just 3-6 since the New Year.
“I would describe it as a whirlwind,” Harden said. “It's something new every single day. It's pretty difficult but we just deal with it internally and keep going.”
Kevin Durant told reporters earlier this month that the excessive travel is no excuse when other teams in the league face similar obstacles, but it certainly had an impact on the Nets on Thursday night. Durant did not play on Thursday for rest, and the beleaguered Nets were overmatched by one of the worst teams in the league.
“We tried, man,” Harden said. “They made some tough shots. On paper, one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league and they made 20-plus threes. You gotta give them credit.”
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