Kevin Durant says he does not need to hold new Brooklyn Nets acquisition Ben Simmons' hand after his latest setback as he bids to return to the NBA.

Simmons, who was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Nets last month, received an epidural injection this week, further delaying any Brooklyn debut which is several weeks away at a minimum.

The 25-year-old has not played all season after sitting out the first half of the campaign with the 76ers citing mental health reasons after the fallout from their 2021 playoffs exit.

The Nets reportedly have hope he will play prior to the playoffs as he overcomes a back injury.

After Wednesday's 113-111 loss to the Dallas Mavericks, Durant was asked how to keep Simmons engaged as he continues on the sidelines for even longer.

"He's a grown man. He's an All-Star. He's a veteran in this league now," Durant said.

"He's gotta keep himself engaged. I ain't ever gonna hold anybody's hand in this league. He knows that.

"He doesn’t want anybody to make sure he's being a professional. I can't wait to get him back but we don’t want to rush him.

"Hopefully he gets back soon. I know he misses it."

The Nets' latest defeat leaves them with a 36-34 record, sitting in eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Durant finished with 23 points, six rebounds and 10 assists and Andre Drummond added 14 points and 17 rebounds for the short-handed Nets.

The Mavs triumphed courtesy of a Spencer Dinwiddie's game-winning three-pointer on the final buzzer.

Dinwiddie finished with 22 points, while Luka Doncic added 37 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

"When you watch that last play, just regret, wondering what the game would have been like if I didn't go jump Luka right there, you know what I'm saying?" Durant said. "So in hindsight I wish I would have made a different decision, but it is what it is."

Steve Nash joked Kyrie Irving produced more career highlights in the space of 12 minutes against the Orlando Magic than the Brooklyn Nets coach managed in his entire career.

Irving scored a career-high 60 points – the most for a Nets player in their NBA history – in Tuesday's 150-108 victory in Florida.

The seven-time NBA All-Star shot 20 for 31, which included eight of 12 on 3-pointers, and made 12 of 13 free throws in his 35 minutes on the court.

Forty-one of Irving's points came in the first half as he became the second Nets player over the past 25 years, after Deron Williams in March 2012, to have 40-plus points in a half.

It was an individual display that will long live in the memory, with Brooklyn coach Nash leading the tributes for the 29-year-old.

"He's just incredible. I felt like he had my career highlight reel in the first 12 minutes of the game," Nash said. 

"It's special to watch him every night – but it's special to watch him on nights like this, where he's in total control, total command. 

"He gets wherever he wants and is able to finish amongst the trees. It's just a pleasure to see it up close and to be a part of it."

 

Irving's 60-point display came a day after the Minnesota Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns also hit that mark against the San Antonio Spurs.

It marks the first time that two players have scored 60 points on successive nights in NBA since 1962.

There have now been seven 50-point games in the NBA in March, which is tied for the most in a single month since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.

And Nets star Kevin Durant, who added 19 points in the win over Orlando, believes the division is now as strong as ever.

"The night after Karl Towns had an incredible performance, to then have Kyrie do it the next night, the league is in an incredible place right now," Durant said.

"I'm sure in the first quarter you saw it developing. Sixteen in the first and then midway through the second all of us on the bench are still looking.

"It's just like that every game for Ky, when you look up and, like, 'Damn, he got 10, 12, 14 points already'."

Durant scored 53 points in Sunday's win over the New York Knicks, making him and Irving the first team-mates in NBA history with 50+ points in back-to-back games.

"Making history, man. making history," Irving said when that stat was put to him. "Doing it with that guy is very special. But credit goes to our group. 

"Our guys in our locker room, they really believe in us, they really rock with us, there's not a doubt in our mind that they really believe that we can do something special. 

"And not just this year, but for years to come. We have a good group. And we're all sacrificing something that's bigger than ourselves."

He added: "When you're a kid scoring a bunch of points, it means something. When you're in the best league in the world doing it against the greatest, it means a little bit more."

The Nets have now won four games in a row to improve to 36-33 for the season, placing them eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Irving will not play against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday due to New York City's mandate requiring vaccination against COVID-19, though he intends to be in attendance.

"I'll probably wear a media pass," he joked. "It's a little awkwardness. 

"But I'll show up there with my family and get a warm embrace from New York, Brooklyn, everybody that's there to support the Nets and support our organisation, support me."

Another road game, and another virtuoso performance from Kyrie Irving in the Brooklyn Nets' 150-108 win over the Orlando Magic.

Unable to play in home games due to New York's vaccine mandate, Irving made the most of Brooklyn's trip to Orlando, scoring a ridiculous 41 points (14-19 from the field) in just the first half.

In an explosive team performance, the Nets scored 48 points in the first quarter, while Irving and Kevin Durant combined for 26. Irving went on to score another 25 of his side's 38 in the second period.

Irving eventually sat with more than eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, with his team up by 37 and his personal tally at a career-best 60 points on 20-31 shooting, 8-12 from the perimeter and 12-13 from the free-throw line.

It also sets a new franchise record for the Nets, beating Deron Williams' 57 back in 2012.

Irving's previous high-scores were 57 points and 55 points, which he scored within two months of each other in the 2014-15 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The massive total ties the most points scored in an NBA game this season, matching Karl-Anthony Towns' mark which he set just yesterday.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash said he is hopeful of Ben Simmons debuting with his new team before the playoffs, but indicated it is far from a sure thing.

With only 14 games to play before the postseason begins, Simmons still has not been cleared to practice due to a back injury that has only worsened since arriving in Brooklyn.

The Nets have shown they can win without Simmons for the time being – including a dominant performance in Philadelphia against former team-mate James Harden – but to be a serious title contender, the former first overall pick will need to play a significant role.

Currently occupying the eight-seed in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn have an uphill battle to try to make up the four games they sit behind the six-seed Cleveland Cavaliers to avoid the play-in tournament and secure a guaranteed playoff berth.

While he has not been able to participate in team practices, Nash said the team are trying to get Simmons as involved as possible and build the necessary chemistry, and that he has "extremely high hopes that we'll see him in the regular season".

"The biggest thing we've tried to do is to have him be involved in everything," Nash said. 

"The travelling is the one caveat, where sometimes you're weighing the cost-benefit of him on aeroplanes and buses and different beds. 

"When he's with us, we want him in every meeting, in every walkthrough, in every film session, whatever it may be, so he's around the group. 

"We'd love for him to travel, be with the team all the time, but we have to weigh that scenario as well."

While Simmons is a "perfect fit" for Brooklyn's team construction and style, according to Nash, there is no way to simulate on-court repetitions alongside stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

"I think he has a pretty good understanding [of what the Nets are doing]," the coach said.  "Now, has his focus been on learning what we're doing? No, it's been on getting better. 

"We've had him around, we want him to learn, but there's a lot going on when you're desperately trying to fight to get on the court.

"I don't expect him to be totally dialled in on what we're doing, because part of that is also feel; getting out there with your team-mates, seeing how it fits. 

"I think he'll be a perfect fit for our guys – but some of that stuff is also getting out there and doing it, learning on the fly, rather than reading it off the notes."

LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to reach 10,000 points, rebounds and assists respectively, in the Los Angeles Lakers' 140-111 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

James notched up his 10,000th assist during the second quarter, with a cross-court pass to Carmelo Anthony for an open three.

The Suns were dominant at home to the Lakers, though, putting up 48 points in the first quarter alone on their way to a commanding win.

Having already secured a playoff berth, despite losing at home to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday, Phoenix faced conveniently light work heading into a road back-to-back this week.

Devin Booker continued to shoulder the burden without Chris Paul, putting up 30 points and 10 assists.

With the loss, meanwhile, the Lakers move to 29-38 and teeter dangerously close to touching distance for the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers, in the race for the final two Western Conference play-in spots.

Durant leads Nets with Irving in the building

Kevin Durant put up an individual season-high 53 points, including a game-breaking three to give the Brooklyn Nets a 110-107 win over the New York Knicks.

The shorthanded Nets were at least able to have Kyrie Irving in the building for the win, with New York mandates now enabling those unvaccinated for Covid-19 to spectate. However, the mandate still requires the vaccination for people who work there, meaning Irving is still unable to suit up.

At the end of the game, Irving walked off the Barclays Center floor arm-in-arm with Durant, who finished with nine assists and six rebounds to go with the 53 points - one point off his career-high.

Joel Embiid had his 30th 30-point game of the season as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Orlando Magic 116-114 in over-time. Embiid finished with 35 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, while Tobias Harris came up with a crucial late three-pointer to finish with 26 points.

Ja Morant had a quiet game by his standards with 17 points, five rebounds and 10 assists as the Memphis Grizzlies improved to 47-22 with a 125-118 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

Doncic dagger propels Mavs to road win

The Dallas Mavericks claimed an impressive win on the road, edging the Boston Celtics 95-92 at the TD Garden. Despite leaving the floor with a hamstring scare in the first half, Luka Doncic’s fingerprints were all over the game’s dying moments - he hit the game-tying three-pointer with 1:21, before being called for fouling Marcus Smart on the potential tying three.

It was overturned on review however, and along with the win, Doncic put up 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. On a night where Kevin Garnett's No. 5 jersey was to be retired by the Celtics post-match, the Mavs moved to 42-26 for the year, half a game behind the Western Conference’s fourth-placed Utah Jazz.

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant has questioned the logic behind New York’s current vaccine mandates, pushing for teammate Kyrie Irving to be eligible to play.

The unvaccinated Irving was able to attend the Barclays Center, but not play, for Brooklyn’s 110-107 win over the New York Knicks, where an imperious Durant scored a season-high 53 points.

Irving was also in attendance at the same building on Saturday, to watch his college team Duke lose the ACC Championship game.

“It [the New York mandate] is ridiculous,” Durant said after the game. “I don’t understand it at all. There’s a few people in our arena that’s unvaxxed, right? They lifted all of that in our arena, right? So I don’t get it. It just feels like at this point now, somebody’s trying to make a statement or a point to flex their authority."

New York’s mandates now allow spectators not to be unvaccinated, but still require employees working in the building to be vaccinated. This prompted Durant to speak in solidarity with Irving, with the 33-year-old specifically calling on New York City Mayor Eric Adams to pull the mandate back.

“Everybody is out here looking for attention and that’s what I feel the mayor wants right now, is some attention. But he’ll figure it out soon. He better,” Durant said.

“It just didn’t make any sense. There’s unvaxxed people in this building already. We got a guy who can come in the building. I guess, are they fearing our safety? I don’t get it.

“We’re all confused. Pretty much everybody in the world is confused at this point. Early on in the season people didn’t understand what was going on, but now it just looks stupid. So hopefully, Eric, you got to figure this out.”

The Brooklyn Nets silenced the Philadelphia crowd that came to jeer Ben Simmons on his return to the Wells Fargo Center in a surprise blowout 129-100 win over the 76ers on Thursday.

Kevin Durant top scored with 25 points along with 14 rebounds and seven assists, while Seth Curry – who was also involved in last month's trade which saw Simmons and James Harden swapped sides – added 24 points with five steals.

Kyrie Irving landed five three-pointers for his 22 points along with five assists, while Harden endured a difficult night against his former teammates.

Harden only managed 11 points, shooting three-of-17 from the field, with six rebounds and five assists. Joel Embiid had 27 points with 12 rebounds for the 76ers.

Simmons did not play, sitting on the Nets bench and enduring boos, but his teammates did their best to silence the home crowd by opening up a 21-point half-time lead.

The win boosted the Nets' playoffs hopes, improving their record to 34-33, while the 76ers are third in the east with a 40-25 record.

 

Curry reaches milestone in GSW win

Stephen Curry reached 20,000 career NBA points as the Golden State Warriors reaffirmed their top three status in the west with a 113-102 win over the Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets, playing their fourth game in five days, led by 14 points in third quarter but fell away, with Nikola Jokic (23 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists) entering foul trouble.

Curry finished with a game-high 34 points including three three-pointers, shooting 11-of-21 from the field, while Jordan Poole drained two clutch triples in the final minute as the Warriors went on a late 13-0 run. 

The win makes it back-to-back victories for Golden State who improve to 45-22 after recent wobbly form, while the Nuggets are 40-27 with their four-game winning run ended. 

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant said he was happy to quiet the raucous Philadelphia crowd after downing the 76ers 129-100 on the road.

It was one of the most highly-anticipated regular season fixtures in some time after James Harden and Ben Simmons sensationally switched teams just weeks ago, with Philadelphia undefeated in five games with Harden in the lineup. 

With the game taking place in Philadelphia, Brooklyn guard Kyrie Irving was allowed to play, with his inability to play in home games due to New York’s vaccine mandate reportedly a major factor in Harden’s desire to move on from the situation.

Durant said that the chants, particularly aimed at new Net Ben Simmons who had an acrimonious split with the 76ers, died down after Brooklyn took a 21-point lead into half-time.

"It was good to quiet them all down mid-way through the game," Durant told TNT. "It was very quiet towards the end – we ain’t hear no more Ben Simmons chants from the 76ers fans, there were more Nets fans here than anything."

Later on in the post-game news conference, Durant touched on the poor performance of his former teammate after Harden finished with 11 points, shooting 3-17 from the field.

"He relies a lot on the free throw line," Durant said. "Getting to the rim and getting to the free throw line gets him in rhythm, and we didn’t let him do that.

"He was three-of-17 – he was trying to get to the rim, but we were all there swarming.

"He hit a few open threes – but you know – when he’s getting to the rim, and getting downhill and to the free-throw line, that’s when they’re tough to stop, and we eliminated a lot of that stuff."

He sure is. pic.twitter.com/v4vOEI30UN

— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) March 11, 2022

While he downplayed the importance of a regular season game in March, Durant said the Nets were aware of the hostility that would meet Simmons, and that he was determined to make it a night to remember for his new teammate.

"I think all of us were [trying to quiet the crowd] – we look at Ben as our brother," he said.

"We knew this would be a hostile environment, and that he didn’t have the opportunity to play, so we wanted to come out there and get [the crowd] focused on the court, more-so than [Simmons].

"They were focused on the court tonight – it’s hard to chant at Ben Simmons when you’re losing by so much."

Kevin Durant hailed Kyrie Irving's season-high 50-point performance in the Brooklyn Nets' 132-121 win over the Charlotte Hornets as a "masterclass".

Durant took a backseat as the Nets point guard hit nine three-pointers, shooting at 79 per cent from the floor, making 15-of-19.

Irving became one of 22 players in NBA history with five 50-point games, while he also became the second guard – behind Michal Jordan – in the league to have multiple 50-point games while shooting 75 per cent or better from the floor.

"Everything he does is pure. It looked so easy tonight," Durant told reporters after the game. "I seen [sic] it in his eyes to start the game.

"He wanted to play better last game, so he came out tonight and wanted to impact the game from the start. He led us all night. It was an incredible performance.

“Younger players should watch this game and learn what it takes to score at that level. That was just a masterclass."

Nets head coach Steve Nash added to the praise of Irving, labelling him an "incredible player".

"He's incredible. He's a career-highlight reel every night," Nash said. "We have a special player on our hands. Overall, he's an incredible player and shot creator."

The result lifts Brooklyn to a 33-33 record, sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference ahead of the final push for the playoffs, having won only four of their past 21 games.

Durant added: "It's always good to get a win. We definitely want to play better than we did in the second half.

"We know we're fighting for our lives every game to get into the playoffs or the play-in. It's good to get the W."

Kevin Durant became just the 23rd player in all-time NBA history to reach 25,000 career points during the Brooklyn Nets' 126-120 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday.

Durant, who also played for the Seattle SuperSonics, Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors during his NBA career, scored a team-high 37 points for the Nets on Sunday.

The 2014 NBA MVP admitted the milestone was "pretty cool" but pointed out that it should be more, referring to injuries during his career.

"It's pretty cool," Durant told reporters after Sunday's loss. "I should be at 30 [thousand] right now, to be honest.

"But it's cool, it's cool to reach that milestone and be amongst the greats and I just got to keep pushing and keep going and see where I end up."

Durant is the seventh fastest player to achieve the feat, reaching 25,000 points in his 922nd game, behind Wilt Chamberlain (691), Michael Jordan (782), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (889), LeBron James (915), Oscar Robertson (917) and Jerry West (920).

Only James and Carmelo Anthony are active players who have also scored 25,000 NBA points.

Nets teammate Kyrie Irving added: "I told him in the locker room, 25,000 points, you're a savant. "You are an artist. You have clipped history. And will forever be remembered as a legend in our game.

"He's been doing it since he was 19, and there's a level of admiration I have for my best friend right there, and he just does it in ways that makes it look easy. And even when he takes six weeks off, it looks like he hasn't missed any time. And that level of work ethic that he puts in, it shows why he's as great as he is.

"For me, it motivates me to continue to get my game up and hopefully when I'm done with my career I could be sitting next to him and having 25,000 as well and look back and we just crack jokes on a few championships that we won together. So that's the goal at hand."

Kevin Durant returned from injury with 31 points but the Brooklyn Nets' struggles continued with a 113-107 defeat to the Miami Heat.

Durant had missed the past 21 games due to an MCL sprain sustained on January 16, with the Nets going 5-16 in his absence, and they led by 16 points in the first half upon his return, but could not sustain it.

The 2014 NBA MVP had a three-point attempt with 57 seconds left which would have put the Nets in the lead but he missed and the Heat scored from the ensuing possession via Bam Adebayo.

Adebayo finished the game with 30 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Tyler Herro came off the bench to contribute 27 points, four rebounds and eight assists.

Durant shot 10-of-21 from the field for his 31 points, including two three-pointers, with four rebounds and four assists.

The result leaves the Nets at 32-32 with a .500 record, while the Heat are top of the Eastern Conference with a 42-22 record.

 

Tatum leads Celtics final-quarter charge

The Boston Celtics continued their strong form as Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter in a 120-107 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Ja Morant maintained his own hot streak, with 38 points, four rebounds and seven assists.

Luka Doncic produced a dominant display with 41 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Dallas Mavericks beat the Golden State Warriors for the second time in five days, 122-113. Stephen Curry managed 21 points with nine assists for the Warriors who have lost seven of their past 10 games.

The Chicago Bulls suffered their third straight defeat with Trae Young scored 39 points with 13 assists as the Atlanta Hawks won 130-124.

 

Struggling Lakers beaten by Clippers

The Los Angeles Lakers slumped to their fourth consecutive loss going down to the Los Angeles Clippers 132-111 after being blown apart in a 40-18 third quarter. LeBron James shot eight-of-18 from the field for his 26 points with four turnovers, while Reggie Jackson scored 36 points for the Clippers.

Kevin Durant ominously said he will "only get better" after he scored 31 points on his return from a 21-game injury lay-off but that was not enough as the Brooklyn Nets lost 113-107 to the Miami Heat.

Brooklyn went 5-16 in Durant's absence, sliding from second in the Eastern Conference to eighth, after he sustained an MCL sprain on January 16.

The Nets led by as many as 16 points in the first half but the Heat fought back to win, with Durant playing 35 minutes on his return, scoring 31 points with four rebounds and four assists.

"I felt great. I'm only going to get better and get more comfortable out there," Durant said during his post-game news conference.

"Take more of the load out there too when I get more games under my belt. I felt solid."

The Nets were missing Kyrie Irving who is unable to play in home games at the Barclays Center due to the New York City vaccination rules, while recruit Ben Simmons is still yet to debut as he builds up his conditioning having not played all season.

Durant played alongside new signings Andre Drummond, Seth Curry and Goran Dragic in the starting line-up for the first time and admitted their cohesion may take time.

"It can take one game, it can take 20 games," he said. "It's a matter of getting out there and seeing what works for us.

"It's not like a certain formula that goes into how you know to build chemistry. It's an organic thing that happens naturally."

The Nets do not have time on their side, with the defeat leaving them at .500 with a 32-32 record having lost three in a row.

"It's to focus on the details every day," Durant said when asked what his short-term focus was. "Obviously winning basketball games, I don’t even need to say that, that's always the goals.

He added: "You've got to give Miami credit. There's no moral victories, but we look at the film, we know how we play, we know what we need to do to win."

Kevin Durant will make his return from injury when the Brooklyn Nets face the Miami Heat on Thursday.

The 12-time NBA All-Star has been out since suffering an MCL sprain of his left knee on January 15.

Steve Nash's side have struggled in Durant's absence and are eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 32-31 record this season.

Superstar Durant will give Brooklyn a huge lift when he is back on court against Eastern Conference leaders the Heat at Barclays Center. He is averaging 29.3 points per game, the most since his MVP campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2013-14 (32).

The Nets on Wednesday confirmed Durant has been taken off the NBA's injury report following over six weeks on the sidelines.

Brooklyn Nets' All-Star Kevin Durant will return in the next week according to head coach Steve Nash.

Durant has been sidelined since January 15 when he suffered an MCL sprain, with the Nets struggling in his absence, sliding to a 31-29 record including a run of 11 straight defeats.

The Nets have been reluctant to put a timeframe on the 33-year-old's return, having been expected to be out until the All-Star break but Nash offered some clarity ahead of Saturday's road game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

"Every day closer," Nash said after shootaround. "We'll see. I expect in the next week he'll be back for sure. It could be quick; it could be the whole week barring any setbacks."

"I think with Kevin he's been a great healer throughout his career so the number one thing is to get him back healthy and feeling secure in his health and his body so he can move and be free.

"When he's back, obviously he adds a ton to our team on both ends of the floor... one of the greatest scorers of all time. And we also know he helps us defensively; he gives us more size and length. So he's a big miss for us, and whenever he gets back, he'll impact our team."

Nash was less committal on Ben Simmons, whom joined the Nets earlier this month in a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers. Simmons has not played all season due to his standoff with the 76ers and is building up his conditioning, as well as managing a "little soreness in his back".

"He's not gone to high intensity yet," Nash said. "Just ramping him up still."

On the back issue, Nash added: "It's not like an injury. It's just kind of like as he's returning to play his back's flared up a little bit. It's not a long-term thing."

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash concedes his side must have urgency to arrest their slide after Thursday's 129-106 loss to the Boston Celtics left them with a 31-29 record.

The Nets were billed as title contenders earlier this season but have endured a tough midseason period, winning only two of their past 15 games with Kevin Durant out injured, Kyrie Irving unavailable for home games and James Harden traded out.

Harden swapped places with Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers, with the new acquisition still yet to debut as he re-conditions having not played this season.

Nash admitted having a healthy roster would go a long way to fixing his side's issues but conceded they needed urgency as their season slips away.

"We understand the situation we're in. We know there's urgency," Nash said at the post-game news conference.

"We're not going to have half a season to figure this thing out. We're up against the clock.

"Our guys have been great. There's a lot of pressure and circumstances that make it difficult as you're dropping in the standings but their spirit has been outstanding.

"That's the spirit of taking it day-by-day game-by-game trying to improve. At the same time, we recognise the situation we're in."

Jayson Tatum starred for the in-form Celtics with 30 points and seven rebounds, while the Nets' best were Seth Curry (22 points and seven rebounds), Bruce Brown Jr (15 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and Kessler Edwards (13 points and five rebounds) off the bench.

Nash was pressed on ways to fix their struggles without their key players, with no timeframes on Durant and Simmons' availability but he reverted to a healthy roster.

"That's number one, two, three and four really," Nash said. "We could've played better tonight, but we can play better on nights when we have everybody too.

"In this league, you flip it, take four of the Celtics starters out, it's a different look."

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