The Brooklyn Nets will attempt to add two road victories in two nights, both without Kevin Durant, when they hit the desert on Tuesday to face the Phoenix Suns.
This time, the Nets also operate without Kyrie Irving. Irving was ruled out Tuesday afternoon for what the team called “low back strain.”
Durant missed Monday’s 136-125 victory at Sacramento due to a slight strain in his left hamstring. Brooklyn overcame the challenge by making a franchise record of 27 triples. The total was within two of the NBA record set by the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this season.
The Suns will be up for a good challenge. Phoenix is on a six-game winning streak, the best of the season, and has won nine of its last 10 games.
The Nets’ Jeff Green started in Durant’s place on Monday and scored 13 points in 24 minutes, but it was others who made the magic happen. Irving scored a season-high 40 points and James Harden added 29 as the Nets won their third straight game, following a three-game losing streak.
“We’re having a bit of fun throwing the ball to each other, just playing with continuous drives, playing off defense and doing the right thing,” Irving said on the YES Network broadcast. “So it felt good.”
The Nets have a ton of touchdowns to replace Tuesday.
Irving was 9 of 11 from 3-point range, while Harden was 6 of 10 from distance. The Nets shot 27 of 47 (57.4 percent) from deep as a team with seven different players making a triple. The Nets led up to 28 before the Kings closed the gap with a late rally.
Durant had just returned from a three-game absence due to COVID-19 contact tracing, and Brooklyn lost two of those games. He has played just one game since February 6, scoring 20 points in a victory Saturday against his former team, the Golden State Warriors.
Nets big man DeAndre Jordan missed Saturday’s victory for personal reasons, but returned Monday to score 10 points with eight rebounds in 27 minutes.
“We’re not the only team that’s going through this, it’s been through a series of tough situations,” Joe Harris of the Nets said Monday. “It’s just about being flexible and resilient to what’s happening, and trying to make the most of what we currently have.”
The Suns also know the routine. Phoenix leading scorer Devin Booker missed four games with his own hamstring problem late last month, returning just before the current winning streak began. Point guard Chris Paul also missed a game last week with a sore hamstring.
The Suns will clinch a 109-90 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday and play the final in what has been a successful seven-game home stay.
Booker scored 27 points Sunday, 17 of which came in the first quarter when he hit 8 of 10 shots from the field. Paul had 12 points and nine assists, while Mikal Bridges had 21 points.
“The guys on this team know their role and they know what they have to do, from the head of the snake to the tail,” said Suns big man Deandre Ayton, who had 10 points and 13 rebounds against the Magic. “Everyone knows what they have to do to make this team a better team.”
Booker has thrived during the home game streak with 28.3 points per game on 54.7 percent shooting.
–Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.