James Harden came to Brooklyn so he wouldn’t have to do it by himself anymore.
Yet there he was by his lonesome on Tuesday night — the Big Three having been reduced to the Bearded One.
Kevin Durant (hamstring) and Kyrie Irving (back) were both out.
And with the Nets getting blown out by the Phoenix Suns in the second leg of a back-to-back set, Harden could’ve easily mailed it in.
Except he didn’t.
There would be No Sleep Till Brooklyn pulled off arguably its greatest comeback in franchise history.
Harden carried the Nets back from a 21-point halftime deficit, and they escaped Phoenix with an incredible 128-124 victory over the Suns to improve to 3-0 on their five-game West Coast roadtrip.
It marked the largest halftime deficit the team has ever overcome in its NBA history. The Nets (18-12) rallied from 28 points down to beat Sacramento on March 19, 2019, but this comeback felt better — even if it was just recently bias.
Harden, who finished with 38 points and 11 dimes, scored or assisted on 18 of Brooklyn’s final 20 points. He drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 31.4 seconds remaining to give the Nets their first lead of the game, 126-124.
“We didn’t wanna give this game away,” Harden told TNT when it was over.
The Nets, who trailed by as many as 24, went into the locker room down 75-54. But they outscored the Suns 74-49 in the second half — including 40-24 in the final period.
All of that meant “good vibes,” according to Brooklyn coach Steve Nash.
Phoenix had won six in a row. It should’ve been seven. Fueled by 17 fourth-quarter points from Chris Paul, the Suns led 124-116 with 2:48 left.
But Brooklyn closed on a 12-0 run — highlighted by Harden’s clutch triple and several crucial stops on the defensive end.
Joe Harris (22 points), Jeff Green (18 points), Tyler Johnson (17 points) and Landry Shamet (13 points) all finished in double figures. Green and Harris combined for 21 points in the fourth, while Shamet played great defense in contesting Devin Booker’s potential game-tying shot that missed with 19 seconds remaining.
In 16 games with the Nets, Harden is averaging 24.3 points, 11.8 assists and 8.4 rebounds while posting a ridiculous 50/40/90 shooting line.
He’s playing like a man on a mission, willing to sacrifice and lead. His goal is a championship — the only thing missing from his Hall of Fame resume. A title, of course, would justify Brooklyn’s decision to trade so much future draft capital for him.
“The way we’re playing and our potential is what gets me excited,” Harden said.
The Nets and Los Angeles Lakers will meet on Thursday in a potential Finals preview.
Granted, Anthony Davis (Achilles) will be out, so it’s not like both teams will be at full strength. Durant and Irving could also miss the game depending on how they’re progressing.
Still, it will be fun to see how Brooklyn stacks up against LeBron James and Co. The Nets will certainly be riding high — fresh off a comeback for the ages. The Bearded One was enough.