The Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday limbered up for the expected arrival of James Harden in a blockbuster NBA trade with a 116-109 victory over the New York Knicks.
Star forward Kevin Durant scored 26 points to lead seven Nets players in double figures — a performance all the more impressive with just nine Brooklyn players available.
News that the Houston Rockets would send their disgruntled star Harden to Brooklyn in a four-team deal electrified the league.
Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY
It had yet to be confirmed, but the four players reported to be on their way out of Brooklyn — Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Rodions Kurucs and Taurean Prince were unavailable, and coach Steve Nash said they were not at Madison Square Garden.
Durant scoffed at the suggestion the proposed deal had made for “drama and chaos” around a team already dealing with the absence of Kyrie Irving for undisclosed personal reasons.
“The game simply is enough for us,” Durant said. “The guys are coming out there enjoying playing every day no matter what the circumstance is.”
“There’s a lot going on throughout the season, and in this world right now, but basketball is one thing everybody in this locker room enjoys,” he said.
Durant, back this season after missing an entire campaign recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, played on back-to-back nights for the first time, logging 30 minutes and connecting on 10 of 18 shots from the field, including three from three-point range.
The Nets, with Durant and Irving healthy, were already expected to contend in the East. The addition of former MVP Harden — the league’s top scorer the past three seasons — would only enhance their ability to challenge in a conference where the Milwaukee Bucks have led the way the past two seasons only to come up short in the playoffs.
The Bucks notched their third straight win, a 110-101 victory over the Pistons in Detroit, on the back of a triple-double from two-time defending NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In other games on Wednesday, it was:
‧ Clippers 111, Jazz 106
‧ Trail Blazers 126, Kings 132
‧ Timberwolves 107, Grizzlies 118
‧ Thunder 99, Lakers 128
‧ Hornets 93, Mavericks 104
SWEEP THE LEG: Poirier, determined to best McGregor, after losing to him in 2014, used low calf kicks to throw ‘Notorious’ off his stand-up game, before dropping him American underdog Dustin Poirier yesterday shook up the world of mixed martial arts, beating up the legs of Irish superstar Conor McGregor before knocking him out at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. “I’m happy, but I’m not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier said, after the referee stepped in after 2 minutes, 32 seconds of the second round to save McGregor from further damage, after he was dropped by a fierce combination of punches. The 32-year-old Poirier was ranked second in the flyweight division going into the fight, but still rated a heavy underdog by bookmakers to beat his fourth-ranked opponent,
LOOKING TO REPEAT: World No. 7 Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin advanced to the round-of-16 at the Toyota Thailand Open, after winning the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday Taiwan’s world No. 7 duo yesterday eased past the US’ world No. 37 pairing at the Toyota Thailand Open to reach the round-of-16 in Bangkok. Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin beat Phillip Chew and Ryan Chew 21-14, 21-11 in just 24 minutes. Lee and Wang, who won the men’s doubles title at the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday, next face the world No. 34 pairing, Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura. In men’s singles, Taiwan’s world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen again beat Thailand’s world No. 45 Suppanyu Avihingsanon, after edging past the Thai player in the opening round of the Yonex
HOLDING STEADY: Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying pushed past Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung to advance to a quarter-finals match against world No. 10 Michelle Li Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen and Wang Tzu-wei yesterday defeated their respective opponents in the second round of the Toyota Thailand Open, setting them up to face each other today in the quarter-finals. In an early match, world No. 12 Wang took 45 minutes to defeat Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka-long 21-13, 21-11. Last week, the world No. 8 ousted Wang from the Yonex tournament before defeating Chou in the semi-finals. Chou, world No. 2, defeated France’s Brice Leverdez in 48 minutes 21-19, 21-16. In other men’s singles matches, Indonesia’s fifth seed Anthony Ginting suffered an unexpected defeat to Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk-yiu, who moved into
MARIN REMATCH: Tai Tzu-ying saved six game points in her semi-final against Ratchanok Intanon, who went into the match with a superior head-to-head record Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying reached the final of badminton’s Thailand Open yesterday with a three-set win over Ratchanok Intanon, setting up a rematch against Carolina Marin. Tai won 12-21, 21-12, 23-21 in 59 minutes to set up her second final against Marin in two weeks, while Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin advanced to the final in the men’s doubles. However, Chou Tien-chen was eliminated in the semi-finals of the men’s singles. Tai saved six game points in the win against her Thai opponent Intanon, who went into the match with a superior head-to-head record against the Taiwanese world No. 1. Tai’s best streak was a