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."

Kevin Durant was absent from the NBA All-Star Game in Cleveland on Sunday night after the death of his grandmother.

Although injured, the 33-year-old Durant had been due to be present as the non-playing captain of Team Durant against LeBron James' Team LeBron.

The Brooklyn Nets superstar was also set to be feted in a ceremony along with fellow members of the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team, the players voted the greatest in the league's history.

Durant's mother, Wanda, announced the family's loss earlier on Sunday.

Wanda Durant wrote on Instagram: "It is with great sadness that we share with family and friends that our Dear Sweet Mama, BARBARA A. Davis, transitioned early this morning."

The NBA sent its condolences to Durant's family, stating on Instagram: "The NBA family mourns the loss of Barbara A. Davis."

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell also pulled out of the game, having fallen ill.

Mitchell had been on the Team LeBron roster, and said: "It is a great honour and has always been a dream of mine to be selected as an NBA All-Star. Remorsefully, I will not be able to play in tonight’s All-Star Game due to an upper respiratory illness [non-COVID-related].

"The entire All-Star weekend is a celebration of the basketball community, the fans and the sport I am blessed to play. I'm focused on getting well and back out on the court. Thank you for all the get-well wishes. I can't wait to see the game later today."

Seth Curry is excited about the weapons at the disposal of the Brooklyn Nets when they get their stars back on court after helping snap their 11-game skid in 109-85 win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday.

Curry top scored for the new-look Nets with 23 points including three three-pointers, while fellow new addition Andre Drummond added 11 points.

Brooklyn were without Kevin Durant (MCL sprain), Kyrie Irving (unable to play in New York due to vaccine mandate) and new acquisition Ben Simmons (conditioning).

"I didn't have to see what we did tonight to know the kind of style we'll play," Curry told reporters after the game.

"We'll have so many weapons out there - offensively and defensively. It's going to be a lot of fun to play.

"It's been a while since I got up and down the floor like that and played with that kind of pace, even in the halfcourt."

The win ends Brooklyn's slump that saw them go from a record of 29-16 to 30-27, but there is renewed hope with a fresh line-up after last week's trade moves that saw Curry, Drummond and Simmons join from the Philadelphia 76ers.

Drummond added: "We have a great group of guys. Guys that are missing right now, we got to wait for them to get healthy, but once everybody gets back I think we'll be very, very good and make a very good push in the playoffs."

Nets head coach Steve Nash had said pre-game that there was no official timeline on Simmons' return to play as he builds reconditioning having not played all season.

“I think he’s in a pretty good state mentally,” Nash said. “If we work with him in conjunction to his physical ramp-up to make sure he’s comfortable on and off the floor, I think he’ll be ready to play mentally when he’s physically ready.”

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant was relieved to come through the "noise" surrounding James Harden after his blockbuster trade to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Sixers signed up Harden and Paul Millsap this week from the Nets, sending Seth Curry, reserve center Andre Drummond, Ben Simmons and two first-round picks the other way.

Harden had last January forced his way out of the Houston Rockets to move to Brooklyn and team up with Durant and Kyrie Irving, but the Nets' 'Big Three' played just 365 minutes together across 16 games in the regular season and playoffs.

Although the Nets went 13-3 in that time, Harden and Irving were each absent for three games of the seven-game series against eventual champions the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2020-21 postseason.

Injury problems have persisted this season, while Irving has missed 10 games due to not having had the COVID-19 vaccination, and the Nets were on a 10-game skid when the Harden trade went through.

Durant insists Harden does not owe an explanation after growing "unhappy" in Brooklyn.

 

"James doesn't have to explain anything to anybody," he said before Saturday's 115-111 loss to the Miami Heat. "He's his own man. He makes his decisions on his career by himself. He doesn't owe anybody an explanation, and I wasn't looking for one.

"I'm just glad that we got this thing done and now we're able to move forward and get some of this noise away, and I'm sure he would feel the same way. But from around our team and around our group, there's noise about what may happen. So I'm glad we can push through that.

"I think once a person gets to that decision of 'I'm unhappy,' I think he's gone through a lot of steps to get there. So, no matter what I say or try to convince someone - I'm not saying I did this, but this is just my theory on this - no matter what I say or do to try to convince someone to change their mood from being unhappy to happy, I think that's when I'm pretty late to the party.

"He's made his decision. I'm sure people make their decision before they get to that mode of being unhappy. I didn't have any conversations with James up until then. I thought everything was solid. I don't do any convincing. I'm sure you make those choices and decisions on your own as an individual. Me as a friend, I just have to accept it."

Harden saw his new team move to 34-22 with an impressive 103-93 defeat of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Joel Embiid continued his MVP form with a triple-double, making a minimum of 25 points for the 31st game in a row, and he believes Harden's arrival will only help him perform better.

"He's going to make the game easy for all of us, especially me," said Embiid. "I don't get a lot of easy shots. I have to work for most of them. I hope he's going to make my game easier."

Kevin Durant has returned to on-court practice but the Brooklyn Nets are still not offering any timeframes on his return to play.

Durant has been sidelined since January 16 with an MCL strain in his left knee, with reports he will not return until after the All-Star Game on February 20.

The Nets have lost 10 in a row in the absence of Durant, who is averaging 29.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game this season.

Durant joined the Nets for their current road trip, marking the first time since sustaining the injury and noted he is edging closer to a return.

"I'm getting better every day," Durant told reporters prior to Saturday's game against the Miami Heat.

"It's obviously a process to get back on the court and I'm going through that every day. I'm feeling much better as each week passes. It's slow but you know I'm looking forward to ramping things up."

He added: "I feel that the next couple weeks that I'll start to do more. That's probably as much as I can give you and I don't know for sure.

"I'm just listening to the training staff, just doing my job and coming in and following the game plan every day. Whatever they give me.

"But from the last few weeks I feel like they'll be able to give me more and more each day goes on so I'll ramp up here soon and we'll see what happens.

"I want to be back as fast as possible but I also know that I don't want to go out there and be 80 percent. I want to be 100 so I can be the best that I can be."

Nets head coach Steve Nash also declined to offer any timelines on 12-time All-Star's likely return.

"He's on the court shooting, working through things, looking really good," Nash said on Saturday. "There's still a period of time he's got to go through to get over the line, but really positive."

The Nets also confirmed new trade acquisitions Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond would not yet debut against the Heat on Saturday.

LeBron James and Kevin Durant confirmed their 2022 All-Star teams in Thursday's draft, with James Harden picked last.

James was voted in by fans as the Western Conference's captain, while Durant was chosen out of the East.

The All-Star draft took place ahead of Thursday's slate of games and came at the end of a thrilling trade deadline day, in which Harden took centre-stage.

Harden has left the Brooklyn Nets to join up with the Philadelphia 76ers, who finally solved their Ben Simmons conundrum by sending him – as well as Seth Curry and Andre Drummond – the other way.

Interestingly, his former Nets team-mate Durant seemingly opted to pick anyone but Harden.

The 32-year-old ended up being given to James by default at the end when Durant chose Rudy Gobert as his final selection.

Despite being captain, Durant will not be taking part in the All-Star game later this month due to a lingering knee injury, meaning he was granted five picks to James' four in the first round of the draft.

James went first, though, and selected the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo – in fact, the Los Angeles Lakers star's starting team will be almost identical to last year's, with DeMar DeRozan instead of Luka Doncic the only difference.

Team LeBron defeated Team Durant 170-150 in 2021 and James will be hoping for a similar outcome this time around.

NBA All-Star Teams

Team LeBron

Starters: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Jokic

Reserves: Luka Doncic, Darius Garland, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, Donovan Mitchell, Fred VanVleet, James Harden

Team Durant

Starters: Joel Embiid, Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young, Andrew Wiggins

Reserves: Devin Booker, Karl Anthony Towns, Zach LaVine, DeJounte Murray, Khris Middleton, LaMelo Ball, Rudy Gobert  

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