Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday clamped down defensively in a 110-95 NBA victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, their fourth win in the five games since Kyrie Irving was suspended.
Star guard Irving was suspended for at least five games by the Nets after using social media to publicize a film widely condemned as anti-Semitic.
Although he has sat out five games, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said before Saturday’s contest that Irving would not return for yesterday’s clash with the Lakers.
“We’re obviously missing [Irving] and we’ve got to look where those points are going to come from,” Durant said after the Nets opened their southern California sojourn with a hard-fought victory. “I think guys are doing that as a group.”
Durant excelled on both ends of the floor, scoring 27 points with six rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and two steals.
Reserve Seth Curry scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets finally put the back-and-forth battle away.
Durant, 34, is the first player to start a season with 13 straight games scoring at least 25 points since Michael Jordan had 16 25-point games to open the 1988-89 campaign.
He has made sure the Nets have weathered the absence of Irving, as well as the continuing struggles of Ben Simmons, who came off the bench and scored just one basket.
Durant said defense was key to the win.
“We hung our hat on just staying in front of our man and making them shoot tough shots over us,” he said after the Nets held Clippers star Paul George to just five-of-12 shooting and 17 points.
While the likely date of seven-time All-Star Irving’s return remains unknown, his situation appeared to be heading toward a resolution after NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Nets owner Joe Tsai said this week they had had productive talks with the player.
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