Nets ‘reviewing’ Kyrie situation after win
Durant carries Nets as Irving continues mysterious hiatus
There was an apparent Kyrie Irving sighting Tuesday night.
No, not at the still-fanless Barclays Center, where the previously struggling Brooklyn Nets used a big night from Kevin Durant to erase an 18-point, second-half deficit en route to a 122-116 victory over the visiting Denver Nuggets.
Instead, Irving, who has been out since last week for as-yet-unexplained reasons, was reportedly taking part in a video-call launch party for Manhattan District Attorney Democratic candidate Tahanie Aboushi, according to the New York Post.
The call, which took place shortly before tip-off of the Nets’ fourth straight game without their talented, but mercurial point guard, came one day after Irving was believed to be seen maskless in a video from his sister’s birthday party, a clear violation of the NBA’s COVID-19 distancing rules.
Many have speculated that Irving’s mysterious absence, which began last Thursday prior to Brooklyn’s game here against Philadelphia, is due to last week’s storming of the Capitol in Washington D.C., by supporters of President Donald Trump.
But that theory remains purely speculative, leaving the Nets to make their own inquiries into the player they brought to Brooklyn alongside Durant two summers ago to help the franchise seriously pursue its first-ever NBA championship.
The truth is, no one knows for sure yet why Irving is sitting out, creating a troubling situation for Nets general manager Sean Marks, who is trying to douse fires with the media and keep one of his two superstars on board for the remainder of the most-anticipated campaign in team history.
“We are aware of a video on social media featuring Kyrie Irving at a family gathering,” Marks noted in a team-issued statement Tuesday. “We are reviewing the circumstances with both Kyrie and the NBA in order to determine compliance with health and safety protocols.
“Kyrie remains away from the team due to personal reasons,” Marks added. “A date of his return has yet to be finalized. In the meantime, we will continue to stay focused on our organizational goals. Kyrie will have the opportunity to address his absence when he is ready to do so.”
When that will be exactly is anyone’s guess at this point?
Irving, known for leaving LeBron James in Cleveland after the two won an NBA title together in 2016, also had a hard time in Boston, where his relationship with management, some teammates and the fan base fizzled.
Now, Marks must be the one to deal with Irving, who isn’t expected back in the Brooklyn lineup until at least Saturday when Brooklyn hosts Orlando.
That means Irving will miss the Nets’ showdown with the East River rival New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
Fortunately, Durant might not.
The two-time Finals MVP, who missed several games himself while in COVID-19 protocol after being in contact with someone who had contracted the virus, was simply fabulous Tuesday night.
Durant scored 34 points, handed out 13 assists and grabbed nine rebounds for Brooklyn, which was down 79-61 early in the third quarter before riding their one remaining superstar and Irving’s fill-in, veteran guard Bruce Brown, to a thrilling come-from-behind win.
Brown, who scored 16 points, snapped a 113-113 tie with two minutes to go on a driving layup.
Durant followed with a jumper and then splashed a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to give Brooklyn a seven-point bulge.
After spending all of last season rehabbing a torn Achilles, Durant has stayed away from playing back-to-back games thus far in this young season.
But with Irving out and the Nets (6-6) struggling to find their groove through the first several weeks of the regular season, Durant might just show up at the Garden ready to go all out against the Knicks, who were one of his many free-agent suitors in the summer of 2019.
“I really hope Kevin plays tomorrow, but we’ll see,” Nash said before watching Durant’s spectacular performance, which saw him log 36 minutes on the hardwood.
“We have to judge these things day to day and moment to moment.”
Sounds very similar to how the Nets find themselves having to deal with Irving this week.
Nothing But Net: Caris LeVert, who has seen more playing time in Irving’s absence, scored 20 points and handed out six assists against the Nuggets. Joe Harris added 15 points and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot added had 11 off the bench for Brooklyn, which outscored the Nuggets 68-46 in the second half. … The Nets will try to win consecutive games for the third time this season Wednesday at the Garden. Brooklyn has yet to put together a three-game winning streak. … The Nets wore their Classic Edition uniforms against Denver, flashing the tie-dye look that former New Jersey greats like Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson used to wear in the 1990s.
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