Sun, 29 May 2022

Minus Kevin Durant, Nets continue to move forward vs. Wizards

Field Level Media
19 Jan 2022, 05:40 GMT+10

The first game of "Life without Kevin Durant" didn't go so well for the Brooklyn Nets.

Now, the Nets will bid to work out the kinks and get back on track Wednesday when they continue a four-game road trip against the Washington Wizards.

"For me personally, it was a big hit," Kyrie Irving saidafter Brooklyn's 114-107 setback to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. "You feel it energetically, the presence in the locker room. Everyone is going to feel it, but for me personally, it's like we just got back into the swing of things and here we are again. One of our guys is out for a long period of time. We've just got to face the reality, man, and move forward."

The Nets are adjusting to their new reality after Durant sprained his medial collateral ligament on Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans. The NBA's leading scorer is expected to sit out several weeks.

"It's an opportunity for our team to grow," Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said. "We have to find solutions."

One temporary solution is the schedule, as the Nets are in the midst of playing nine of 11 games on the road. That's considered a positive since Irving is unvaccinated and therefore ineligible to play at home because of a local mandate that all professional athletes playing in New York City's public venues be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Brooklyn has a 15-5 record on the road this season.

As for Monday's game, Irving collected 27 points and nine assists and James Harden had 22 and 10, respectively.

Irving did not play in the Nets' first encounter versus the Wizards. Instead, Durant paced Brooklyn with 25 points and Harden chipped in 14 and nine assists in a 104-90 win on Oct. 25 in New York.

Bradley Beal scored 19 points in that contest and finished with 13 on Monday in his return from a three-game absence in protocol. He also added six assists and five rebounds to lift Washington to a 117-98 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

"I'm totally pleased with Brad," Wizards acting coach Joseph Blair said. "I think the numbers don't do justice what he brought to the game, because even when he's not making baskets or getting those assists, he still draws the attention of the defense in an unbelievable way. It's very noticeable, if you ever see him with the ball, how much everything shifts in his direction."

Kyle Kuzma recorded his career-high 18th double-double of the season and 10th in his past 13 games after collecting 15 points and 16 rebounds.

"This was one of our better wins of the season," Kuzma said. "It felt great. ... Any time you can play a game and get everybody in -- reserves, everybody that works hard every single day that you may not know ... that's a great sign."

Thomas Bryant scored 15 points off the bench on Monday, marking his highest total since he finished with 21 in Washington's 123-122 win over Brooklyn on Jan. 3, 2021.

--Field Level Media

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