Irving puts up 30 as Nets hold off Wizards
Previously exiled superstar bails out Brooklyn in D.C.
Kyrie Irving flashed the form that the Nets had been missing for most of this season.
Fortunately for Brooklyn, Kyle Kuzma and Spencer Dinwiddie were missing too as the final seconds ticked down on the Nets’ 119-118 victory over the Washington Wizards Wednesday night in front of 15,380 fans at Capitol One Arena.
Irving scored 22 of his season-high 30 points in the first half and Kuzma and former Net Dinwiddie failed to convert potential game-winning 3-pointers as Brooklyn held on for its first win in two games since Kevin Durant went down for at least a month with a knee strain.
Since rejoining the team on the road earlier this month in Indiana, Irving, who is not vaccinated and therefore unable to play for Brooklyn at Barclays Center due to New York City’s COVID-19 mandates, is averaging 22 points per contest.
He had that by intermission Wednesday as the Nets (28-16) ran out to a 74-62 advantage.
“Obviously having him on the road has been a big plus for us,” Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash said after watching Irving go 13-of-23 from the floor with seven assists.
“Tonight he was brilliant.”
But the Wizards (23-22), buoyed by Bradley Beal’s 23 points, reeled Brooklyn back in over the final 12 minutes before Kuzma’s shot from beyond the arc with 36 ticks left on the clock pulled them within one point.
Irving and James Harden both failed to increase the Nets’ lead on the ensuing possession before Kuzma and then Dinwiddie misfired before the buzzer.
“It was a good test for us,” Irving noted. “I felt like we could have maintained the lead a little bit more.”
LaMarcus Aldridge poured in 27 points off the bench on 11-of-15 shooting and Harden added 18 points, eight rebounds and nine assists for Brooklyn, which snapped a four-game losing streak in our nation’s capital and won for just the fifth time in its last dozen contests.
Patty Mills contributed 17 points and rookie Day’Ron Sharpe had 14 for the Nets, who will be in San Antonio Friday night trying to win consecutive games for the first time since sweeping through the Lakers and Clippers in Los Angeles from Dec. 25-27.
NOTHING BUT NET: The Nets can’t be too disheartened that they are once again down to two superstars instead of three due to Durant’s injury. Irving and Harden helped Brooklyn go 16-3 last season when Durant was unable to play. They are just 1-1 thus far this year after Wednesday’s win. … The Nets will be back at Barclays Tuesday night to host the L.A. Lakers.
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