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Durant guides Nets past Jazz at Barclays

Superstar flirts with triple-double in 114-106 victory

March 22, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Kevin Durant began Monday by voicing fellow superstar Kyrie Irving’s displeasure over not being able to play games in Brooklyn yet due to New York City’s vaccination mandates and COVID-19 protocols.

He finished the day off by proving the Nets could hold the fort until their second superstar is permitted to rejoin his teammates at Barclays Center.

“He’s frustrated in not being able to play,” Durant said following Brooklyn’s shootaround at Sunset Park’s HSS Training Center. “He figured this stuff would be rolled back by now, we’d be way past this.”

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While Durant, Irving and the rest of the Nets (38-34) wait for Mayor Eric Adams to alter or lift the mandates, Brooklyn still has some winning to do at home if it hopes to reach the NBA playoffs and pursue the franchise’s first-ever championship.

Durant made sure they moved closer to that goal Monday night.

He scored a game-high 37 points, handed out eight assists and ripped down nine rebounds as the Nets won for the sixth time in their last seven games, posting a 114-106 triumph over the Utah Jazz in front of a sellout crowd of 17,877 on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.

Bruce Brown had 22 points, Nic Claxton added 15 and Patty Mills finished with 13 for Brooklyn, which remained eighth in the Eastern Conference, three games behind sixth-seeded Cleveland for an automatic berth in a first-round series.

If the Nets finish anywhere between the seventh and 10th seeds, they will be relegated to a four-team play-in tournament for the right to play a best-of-7.

Kyrie Irving hopes to play at Barclays either before the end of the regular season or into the playoffs next month. AP Photo by Rick Bowmer

Brooklyn has 10 games remaining, including six here in our borough, where Irving must sit and watch rather than propel the Nets toward the postseason.

“It’s the situation we’re in, we got to deal with it, he’s got to deal with it. Trusting that it’ll get figured out there soon,” noted Durant.

“I have no clue what may happen, but I’m just trusting that things will work itself out. But I’m sure he misses playing in front of a home crowd and the home crowd, vice versa, they miss him. So hopefully we get it figured out soon.”

Donovan Mitchell scored 30 points for the Jazz (45-27), who had a three-game winning streak snapped despite battling to cut a 21-point second-half deficit to six with just over a minute left in regulation.

But Durant fed Claxton for a thunderous alley-oop dunk with 37 ticks left as the Nets completed a 2-1 homestand.

Brooklyn will travel to Memphis on Wednesday and Charlotte on Saturday, meaning Irving will be available to play in both contests.

Nets head coach Steve Nash hopes to have Kyrie Irving back playing at home and Ben Simmons in the lineup before Brooklyn begins its playoff run. AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

NOTHING BUT NET: Brooklyn’s potential third superstar, Ben Simmons, is dealing with a herniated disk in his back, though head coach Steve Nash still believes the player acquired from Philadelphia in the trade-deadline deal for James Harden will still see action before the end of the regular season. … Durant moved into 22nd place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 25,212 points, edging former Los Angeles Lakers legend Jerry West. … The Nets will be back in Brooklyn March 27 to kick off a three-game homestand with a visit from Charlotte. … The Nets found out Monday night that sharpshooter Joe Harris would miss the rest of the campaign after undergoing successful surgery on his left ankle. Harris, one of the top 3-point shooters in the sport, only managed to play in 14 games this year.

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