Tagged in: Nets

Irving scores 40, Nets beat Celtics 121-109

Kyrie Irving scored 40 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 121-109 triumph over the Boston Celtics on Thursday night.

James Harden had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Brooklyn, which improved to 25-13 with its 12th win in 13 matches. Landry Shamet added 18 points and fellow reserve Jeff Green concluded with 11. Joe Harris added 12 as the Nets won without Kevin Durant and newcomer Blake Griffin.

Jayson Tatum scored 31 points but Boston had its four-game winning streak snapped. Marcus Smart added 19 in his return from injury, Daniel Theis had 17 and Jaylen Brown chipped in with 13.

The first meeting between the Atlantic Division rivals since Christmas emphasized the gulf between the teams. Specifically, Brooklyn’s quick strike offense.

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The Nets started the fourth with an 88-86 lead, but it took just more than 3 minutes to extend the advantage to 100-90 even as Irving sat on the bench.

After Boston cut the lead to five following Tatum’s jumper, Irving and Joe Harris checked back into the game and the Nets promptly outscored Boston 21-14 for the remainder of the game. In that 7:34 stretch, Irving made two 3s and two free throws versus his former team, and when Green slammed a two-handed dunk with 43 seconds left, the outcome was basically decided.

Smart had missed 19 games dating back to Jan. 30 with a strained left calf. He played 21 minutes after Boston coach Brad Stevens said before the game that the guard would be limited to 20-22.

How did the Celtics settle upon that time frame? “What I do is I get told and I follow instructions,” Stevens deadpanned. “It’s a lot like being married, right? My wife tells me what to do and I do what she says. That’s pretty much how this all works with the minute restrictions.”

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Former NBA All-Star forward Blake Griffin signs deal with Brooklyn Nets

Six-time All-Star forward Blake Griffin has signed a deal with the Brooklyn Nets for the rest of the campaign, the team announced Monday.

The Nets are using one of their veteran-minimum-contract slots to sign Griffin, sources told ESPN.

Griffin informed Nets general manager Sean Marks of his decision to join Brooklyn’s championship chase on Sunday evening, a reunion of sorts with his former LA Clippers teammate DeAndre Jordan.

“We’re fortunate to be able to add a player of Blake’s caliber to our roster at this point in the season,” Marks said in a statement. “Blake is a versatile frontcourt player with a long track record of success in our league, and we’re excited about the impact he’ll make for us both on and off the court in Brooklyn.”

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Griffin had interest from most of the NBA’s top playoff contenders and cleared waivers on Sunday night after agreeing to a buyout on the remaining $56.5 million left on his contract with the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

The Nets imagine Griffin, 31, as a small-ball center alternative off the bench.

Brooklyn has solidified itself as a championship contender with the addition of James Harden to a roster that includes Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Because Brooklyn will be in the luxury tax next season, the most it could offer Griffin as a free agent is the $5.9 million taxpayer mid-level exception, according to reporting by ESPN’s Bobby Marks. However, Griffin will earn $29.8 million from Detroit next year and has $255 million in career earnings.

Detroit has entered a full-fledged rebuild under the first-year general manager Troy Weaver and the chance to play the franchise’s younger players has taken precedent for the Pistons.

Griffin was traded less than a season into a five-year, $171 million max deal with the Clippers, arriving in Detroit in late-January 2018.

Injuries have dramatically altered Griffin’s game, eliminating the high-flying rim attacks that marked his All-Star career. He now leans heavily on the 3-point shot and his ability to make plays for others.

Griffin averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 20 matches for Detroit this season.

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Detroit Pistons, Blake Griffin agree to contract buyout

Six-time NBA All-Star Blake Griffin has agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons and will become an unrestricted free agent, the team revealed Friday.

The Brooklyn Nets, Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers are expected to be among the teams Griffin will be considering for his next stop, sources tell ESPN.

Griffin, 31, is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams, sources said.

“Blake has been a great representative for our franchise and for the city of Detroit,” owner Tom Gores said in a statement Friday. “His work ethic and his approach to the game contributed a lot to our culture. He has been a consummate pro and we wish him continued success.

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“I’m grateful for everything he did for our team and for our community.”

Finding a trade for Griffin — who was owed a remaining $36.6 million this campaign and $39 million in 2021-22 prior to the buyout — was an insurmountable challenge for the Pistons.

Detroit concluded a reduction in his remaining salary to gain free agency with Griffin’s agent, Sam Goldfeder of Excel Sports, since the sides mutually agreed he would leave the active roster on Feb. 15 awaiting a trade or buyout.

“I thank the Pistons organization for working together on an outcome that benefits all involved and I wish the franchise success in the future,” Griffin said in a statement released by the team.

Detroit has entered a full-fledged rebuild under first-year general manager Troy Weaver, and the chance to play the franchise’s younger players has taken precedence for the Pistons.

Injuries have dramatically altered Griffin’s game, eliminating the high-flying rim attacks that marked his All-Star career. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists for Detroit this season.

Griffin was traded less than a season into a five-year, $171 million max deal with the LA Clippers, arriving in Detroit in late January 2018.

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James Harden has triple-double in Houston return, Nets roll

The No. 13 on his jersey, James Harden won so many matches for the Houston Rockets.

On Wednesday night in the first meeting with his former team, No. 13 had a triple-double for the Brooklyn Nets to send the reeling Rockets to their 13th consecutive loss.

“A lot of mixed emotions from the fans but I knew that was going to happen,” Harden said. “I just wanted to come out here and give them a show.”

He did that with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists in the 132-114 triumph. The Nets set a franchise record with their seventh straight road victory. They’ve won 10 of their last 11 overall.

Harden has meshed well with his new team and the Nets are 17-7 since the trade. “So far, so good,” he said. “It’s everything that I signed up for. Top to bottom it’s been great.”

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It’s the longest skid for the Rockets, who had just eight players available because of injuries, since they dropped 15 in a row in 2001. They’ve had a tough time since Harden was traded Jan. 14 and haven’t won since Feb. 4.

The Rockets used a 10-0 run, with five points from John Wall, to cut the lead to eight with about eight minutes left in the fourth. But the Nets scored the next eight points, with two 3s from Harden, to extend it to 113-97 midway through the quarter.

It’s the eighth triple-double for Harden this season and his second straight after he had 30 points, 14 rebounds and 15 assists without a turnover in an overtime triumph at San Antonio on Monday night. He didn’t play as clean of a game Wednesday when he had eight turnovers.

Harden got a mixed reception from the crowd.

Many of the 3,615 fans booed when he was introduced before the game and more boos came the first few times he touched the ball.

He stated it was a “little weird” being on the visitor’s side but denied having any extra emotions.

“Once I get on that court I’m just trying to win,” he said. “So that was kind of my feeling. I wasn’t trying to show off. I wasn’t trying to do anything out of the ordinary that I haven’t been doing. Just playing my brand of basketball.”

The Rockets played a video showcasing some of the countless highlights of his eight seasons in Houston during a timeout in the first quarter. There were more cheers than boos as it played. Harden stepped out of the huddle and raised his arms before placing his hands in a praying position to acknowledge the fans as it ended.

“You could tell it meant something to him,” coach Steve Nash said. “This place is special to James. Houston means a lot to him … so I know it was a big game for him. I was proud of the way he handled it.”

Wall had a season-high 36 points, and Victor Oladipo also set his season high with 33.

Houston coach Stephen Silas stated the strong play of those two stars is an encouraging sign amid this difficult stretch.

“It lets us know that when we get back and we’re healthy and we’re whole and we are in a position where we have enough guys to compete we’re going to be just fine,” he said.

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‘Nervous’ Kevin Durant shines in return from injury, calls Brooklyn Nets debut ‘good step’

After a year and a half of Achilles rehabilitation, Kevin Durant returned to the basketball court for the first time on Sunday for the Brooklyn Nets’ preseason game versus the Washington Wizards.

“I was anxious, nervous,” Durant stated afterward. “I visualized this moment for so long — nine, 10 months of thinking about how it would be, this next phase of my career. I felt like I was chomping at the bit, especially once COVID hit because I didn’t see a future — when the season was going to start in the future. I was going through it.

“So to go through this felt solid.”

The first points in the game came from an authoritative Durant dunk. He followed that with an assist to DeAndre Jordan for a dunk.

The Nets went on to defeat the Wizards 119-114. Durant concluded shooting 5-of-12 from the field with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 24 minutes of play. “It felt great, you know, to be back in a routine and get back on the floor and feel like a player again,” he said. “I didn’t think I played great. I felt I had some solid moments.”

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One of them was when he drew a charge on Washington’s Rui Hachimura early in the game.

“I definitely am feeling it right now,” Durant said with a laugh. “It’s good to get back in the flow of things, and it definitely gives me some confidence. … It’s a good step, and I am trying to build on it.”

Before the match, first-year head coach Steve Nash said he hoped to play both Durant and Kyrie Irving “north of 20 minutes” in each of Brooklyn’s two preseason games.

“When you have that type of injury,” Nash said of Durant after the game, “it is kind of remarkable he’s at the level he’s at.

“It’s amazing. This is an injury that very few people have conquered, so to speak. … It’s beautiful to see him back on the basketball court. I think the world missed him — I certainly did.”

Irving, who hasn’t played since February after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, finished with 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field.

Irving, who played for 18 minutes, declined to speak to reporters after the game, continuing to break the league’s media rules despite his being fined $25,000 on Friday for not speaking to reporters.

During the Nets’ weeklong training camp, Durant was not ready to make any proclamations about how much he would resemble his pre-Achilles injury self before actually playing in a game. After one preseason game, Durant stated he still isn’t ready to make any declarations.

“I want to play at the highest level of basketball — the highest intensity of basketball, and that’s not in the preseason,” Durant said. “I want to play at an elite level late into the season, playoffs. That’s when I want to play my best basketball, so I’m working toward that point.”

Since the game ended, Durant said he has been fielding texts and phone calls from friends, colleagues and acquaintances asking how he is feeling.

“I can’t wait ’til that’s over with so I can get back into the swing of things and just feel like one of the guys again,” Durant said. “So it was a good first step.”

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Mike D’Antoni joins Steve Nash’s staff with Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets sideline is going to be filled with a lot of offensive masterminds next campaign, as Mike D’Antoni has agreed to a deal to become an assistant coach on Steve Nash’s staff, the team informed Friday.

D’Antoni stepped down as head coach of the Houston Rockets shortly after the team lost in the second round of the playoffs to the Lakers, and many thought he would find another head coaching position around the league. 

Early during his coaching free agency, D’Antoni was attached to multiple jobs, including the Pelicans and the Pacers. But it was reported in mid-October that the two-time Coach of the Year was a potential candidate to join the Nets coaching staff. 

With D’Antoni joining Brooklyn’s staff, it reunites him with Nash, who he coached during two separate stints throughout Nash’s profession. Most notably, though, was their time in Phoenix, where with D’Antoni at the helm and Nash as the star point guard, the two orchestrated one of the most prolific offenses in league history, with the Seven Seconds or Less Suns. 

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Now, with Nash beginning his first head coaching job, he’ll be able to lean on a coach who helped him secure two league MVP awards and played an integral role into him becoming a Hall of Fame player.

Between the two of them, they’ll be able to come up with creative ways to use their two stars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, and will no doubt have an offense that can put a lot of points on the board. 

Also joining D’Antoni on the coaching staff is Ime Udoka

Udoka spent seven years under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, and most recently a season with the Philadelphia 76ers. Like D’Antoni, Udoka was being considered for several head coaching gigs around the league, including the Bulls and the Sixers, however both teams went in different directions.

Now, Udoka will be able to bring what he learned under Popovich’s stewardship to a Nets team that has championship objectives next season. With the addition of D’Antoni and Udoka, Nash has assembled quite the impressive coaching staff for a first-timer.

Jacque Vaughn will remain the Nets top assistant coach, and former teammate Amar’e Stoudemire will also join him as an assistant focusing on player development. Stoudemire and Nash spent several seasons together playing for the Suns where they formed one of the best pick-and-roll combinations in the mid-2000s.

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Nets DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie say they tested positive for Covid

When the novel coronavirus pandemic first struck the NBA, four members of the Brooklyn Nets tested positive for COVID-19. One of them was Kevin Durant, but he and the other three unnamed members of the team have since been cleared of the virus and are symptom-free.

However, Durant (right Achilles), Kyrie Irving (right shoulder), Nic Claxton (left shoulder) and Wilson Chandler (opting out) will not be available for the Nets when the NBA resumes the 2019-20 campaign at Disney World in Florida at the end of July.

And Brooklyn will now be down more players – potentially even without its leading scorer for the bulk of the season.

DeAndre Jordan announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus and would not be playing during the resumed campaign, and Spencer Dinwiddie told Shams Charania of The Athletic he has tested positive for COVID-19.

d would not be playing during the resumed campaign, and Spencer Dinwiddie told Shams Charania of The Athletic he has tested positive for COVID-19.

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“Over the past few months, I have been diligent about protecting myself and others from COVID-19 by following all designated protocol and quarantining,” Dinwiddie told The Athletic.

“I was ready and prepared to rejoin my teammates as we were to be an early entry team in the resumed season. I flew private to return to New York, passed multiple COVID-19 tests over my first several days in New York and was able to participate in a couple practices within the first week.

“Originally, we were supposed to be one of the teams to enter into the Orlando bubble early, but training camp got switched back to New York and unfortunately I am now positive.”

Dinwiddie has shown symptoms of the illness, “including fever and chest tightness.” As a result, he’s uncertain if he’ll participate in the league’s restart: “… it is unclear on whether or not I’ll be able to participate in Orlando,” he said. 

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Nets’ Irving suffers facial fracture in pickup game

Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving suffered a left-side facial fracture after being elbowed in the face during a workout at the team’s practice facility, the team announced Wednesday.

Brooklyn sent Irving to the hospital for further evaluation Tuesday after he was injured during a pickup game. League sources told the New York Daily News that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson accompanied him to the hospital following the injury.

The Nets signed Irving in July after two seasons with the Boston Celtics.

He had to wear a protective mask during games to protect a previous facial fracture, including early in the 2017-18 campaign after he was elbowed by former teammate Aron Baynes.

The good news for the Nets is that the injury doesn’t seem too serious, and Irving shouldn’t miss any significant period of time. Still, you never want your best player dealing with a broken face a few days before training camp is about to begin. That’s not a good way to get the season started. 

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However, even if Irving has to miss a few days of practice, the signing is already paying dividends for the team. During a press conference on Tuesday, which was already scheduled before the incident, Nets GM Sean Marks praised Irving’s professionalism and commitment to the team, saying the “leadership, the work ethic and the competitive nature that he has brought to the group has been terrific.”

The Nets will start training camp on Sept. 28, a few days earlier than most teams due to their preseason trip to China. They’ll be playing two preseason games against the Los Angeles Lakers in Shanghai and Shenzhen on Oct. 10 and 12. Assuming no further complications, Irving should be ready to go for those contests.

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