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Nets to host Hornets at Barclays Wednesday

Hoping to bounce back from first loss on long homestand

December 6, 2022 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The Boston Celtics reminded the Brooklyn Nets of last season’s playoff sweep, and how much further they need to go to be one of the Eastern Conference’s elite teams this season.

“I mean, they’re a good team and when you’re making costly mistakes, especially down the stretch, it’s going to affect you,” Nets guard Kyrie Irving said after Brooklyn’s streak-ending 103-92 loss to the defending conference champions at Downtown’s Barclays Center on Sunday.

“It’s going to have an impact on the game, the flow.”

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The Nets (13-12) had won six in a row in Downtown Brooklyn, including the first four contests of this ongoing season-high seven-game homestand, before the Celtics blew open a tight game in the fourth quarter.

Boston won four in a row vs. Brooklyn during the opening round of last year’s playoffs, including the final two games in Brooklyn.

The Nets were hoping to measure themselves against the team with the NBA’s best record (20-8) over the weekend, but came up short when it counted most.

“They’re a big team, they shoot the ball well, they’ve got good length,” said newly minted Eastern Conference Player of the Week Kevin Durant. “So you’ve got to match that if you want to be able to compete.”

Brooklyn will have to wait until Jan. 12 to host the Celtics at Barclays again, but before that the Nets still have two more home dates on this extended stand, beginning with Wednesday’s contest against the Charlotte Hornets (7-17), who have lost three of their last four games.

The Hornets dropped a 98-94 decision in Brooklyn on Nov. 5, a game that saw Durant score 27 points and coincided with Irving’s eight-game suspension for posting a link to an antisemitic documentary.

“I think we have rallied around each other,” Durant said that night. “It’s been a tough week for us and it’s good just to get back to the game. Once the ball is tipped (everything else) goes out the window. We were just waiting to get back to playing. We showed some pride.”

They’ll have to show more of it in the wake of Irving’s most recent off-the-court issue.

On Monday, Nike officially ended its relationship with the mercurial superstar over last month’s transgression.

“Kyrie is no longer a Nike athlete,” a Nike company spokesperson told ESPN.

Because of last month’s suspension by the Nets, Kyrie Irving lost his Nike endorsement deal Monday. AP Photo by Jessie Alcheh

Durant hasn’t blinked amidst the turmoil surrounding the Nets this year, averaging just under 30 points per game while participating in all 25 games for Brooklyn.

The two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player netted 33.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game last week for his Player of the Week award as a Net.

Swingman Ben Simmons sat out his second straight game vs. the Celtics due to a left lateral upper calf strain suffered in the first half of a 109-102 win over Orlando here on Nov. 28.

The versatile guard/forward will sit out again against the Hornets, but could be back on the hardwood for the finale of the homestand Friday night vs. Atlanta.

The Nets did add T.J. Warren back to the active roster last Friday against Toronto. The veteran forward had been out for nearly two years with multiple stress fractures in his left foot before averaging 17.5 minutes over the last two games.

“Just effort, my ability to be versatile out there, just be a two-way player, something I took pride in since coming in the NBA,” Warren said after putting up 10 points vs. the Raptors.

“Just being able to guard multiple guys and just be able to be that three-level scorer at the same time and just try to feed off guys that just play hard,” he added.

Warren finished with only four points in 18 minutes against the Celtics on Sunday.

The Nets won’t have Ben Simmons for a third straight game Wednesday, when they host the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center. AP Photo by Doug McSchooler

NOTHING BUT NET: Durant is one of 27 players in franchise history to earn Player of the Week honors and one of just two to win the award five or more times as a Net, joining Jason Kidd (nine). Durant’s 31 career Player of the Week honors are the third-most among all players since the award was introduced in the 1979-80 season, trailing only LeBron James (65) and Kobe Bryant (33). … After hosting Atlanta on Friday, the Nets will hit the road for four straight games, beginning with Saturday’s game in Indiana, where Warren spent the previous two seasons.

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