Kevin Durant carried load again on Saturday as the Brooklyn Nets beat the Los Angeles Clippers 110-95 on Sunday for their fourth NBA victory in the five games since Kyrie Irving was suspended.
Star guard Irving was suspended for at least five games by the Nets after using social media to publicise a film widely denounced as anti-semitic.
Although he has now reached the minimum, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said before Sunday’s game that Irving would not return for Sunday’s clash with the Lakers in Los Angeles.
The Nets opened their Southern California sojourn with a hard-fought victory over the Clippers, Durant scoring 27 points with six rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and two steals.
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Reserve Seth Curry caught fire late, scoring 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets finally put the back-and-forth battle away.
Durant, 34, is the first player to start a season with 13 straight games scoring at least 25 points since the great Michael Jordan had 16 25-point games to open the 1988-89 campaign.
He’s made sure the Nets have weathered the absence of Irving, as well as the continuing struggles of Ben Simmons, who came off the bench and scored just one basket.
The Australian, acquired last season in the trade that sent James Harden to Philadelphia, finished with two points, five rebounds and three assists.
Clippers star Paul George endured a tough shooting night, connecting on just five of 12 shots on the way to 17 points.
Center Ivica Zubac scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and Marcus Morris added 13 as the Clippers kept the pressure on until the Nets put together a late 18-2 scoring run.
While the likely of seven-time All-Star Irving’s return remains unknown, his situation appeared to be heading toward a resolution after both NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Nets owner Joe Tsai said this week they’d had productive talks with the player.
Irving came under fire for his link to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: wake up black America,” and his initial refusal to apologise prompted the Nets to suspend him.
Even after he offered an apology on Instagram, apparel giant Nike said it was “suspending” its relationship with him, cancelling the launch of the Kyrie 8 shoe that was expected this month.
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