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Juancho Hernangomez was in the dark for hours about being part of the three-team trade that sent him from Boston to the Spurs. “It’s a crazy story,” the 6-foot-9 power forward said. “I was at dinner (Tuesday night) and I didn’t have my phone because somebody stole it after the Philly game (Jan. 14).” It wasn’t until Hernangomez returned home at around 10:30 that he learned that ESPN broke the news about the trade earlier that night. “My brother (New Orleans center Willy Hernangomez) had tried to reach me,” he said. “He was like, ‘Oh, good luck on your new team. It’s going to be awesome.’ I told him like, ‘What? Where am I going?’ He said San Antonio, and I was really happy. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
Fresh off dominating the third quarter, James Harden engaged in a constructive confrontation with his backcourt mate Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets’ bench. “James kind of yelled at me,” Irving said. “It’s not a negative yell, but he yelled at me, ‘Kai, get the f’ing ball!’ in the third quarter after he scored [12 points] in the quarter. I kind of took that personal. I just wanted to come out in the fourth quarter in an aggressive mindset and just play within the flow of the offense.” Irving, who was scoreless in the third quarter, responded to his co-star’s challenge by scoring 15 of his 24 points in the fourth as the Nets cruised to a 117-102 win Friday night over the San Antonio Spurs. Harden had 11 points in the final quarter, as the Nets’ superstar guards were only two points shy of matching the Spurs’ scoring total in the frame.
In the end, Irving — who had just nine points through the third quarter — put up 15 in the fourth. He shot 6-for-9 and was a plus-10 in a final period that served as a breakthrough. “For sure,” Harden said of the point guard. “For sure, it was a breakthrough. He’s capable of doing that, man, at any moment, at any point in the game. And that’s one of the reasons we need him every single game: Because he’s able to do that, especially with everything that’s going on with our team. “But he’s more than capable of doing things like that whenever he wants. I think he just tries to get us involved a little bit more. But yeah, he’s a special talent.”
The triumph by the Nets had Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge smiling. The tribute from the Spurs had them crying. The pair, on Friday night, made their first returns to San Antonio since leaving for Brooklyn, and they received a warm reception from Spurs fans and were honored with a video tribute at AT&T Center. “It was cool that we get to share the moment together because obviously we both were here for some time,” Mills said. “So it was cool and unique for us to be able to share the moment together. So it was really cool to share the moment.” “Ah man, I was touched,” Aldridge added. “It’s always nice to see what you achieved and those moments that were special to me and this organization. When I left Portland it was a bitter ending, so it was nice to have it here.”