Kevin Durant carries Nets to OT as Brooklyn’s COVID-19 protocol list grows to seven, including James Harden

Kevin Durant carries Nets to OT as Brooklyn's COVID-19 protocol list grows to seven, including James Harden

NEW YORK – After a stormy day that saw the Brooklyn Nets lose six players due to NBA health and safety protocols – including James Harden And Bruce Brown Within an hour of hinting ahead of the final 131-129 victory in overtime against the Toronto Raptors – coach Steve Nash said he was briefly unsure if Tuesday night’s game would ever be played.

With seven Nets players entering NBA health and safety protocols in the previous 24 hours, Brooklyn didn’t have the eight needed to play against Toronto. Kevin Durant, who was suspected of right ankle soreness, was unable to go.

“We had to discuss it,” Nash said. “We had to discuss Kevin’s position. Obviously we’re talking about a franchise player; we don’t want to risk him. So maybe we’re more careful than he is. But he really wanted to play, and that was it.”

In the end, the Nets played four rookie players – including David Duke Jr., a two-way player, in the typical back starting area of ​​Harden patty mills – In their rotation, Durant managed to hold the Nets with 34 points, 13 rebounds and 11 three-way assists during a 48-minute play.

“Man, I can’t even explain how I feel,” Durant said. “It’s December and we have seven players injured and we could easily play this game. But we saw an opportunity for us to grow and improve, especially the youngsters who didn’t play a lot of meaningful games in the NBA, especially against a tournament organization like Toronto, [and it] It was a great test for us.

“I’m so proud to just be a part of this group and play with these young guys…Man, it was amazing to be there.”

Nets forward Paul Millsap The protocols entered on Monday, and the attackers followed LaMarcus AldridgeAnd James Johnson And DeAndre ‘Bembry and guarding Jevon Carter Tuesday morning. They were later joined by Harden (who entered the Barclays center about an hour before his entry into the protocols was announced) and Brown (who was on the field preparing to warm up in anticipation of play).

There was a moment when I looked [Nets assistant coach Tiago Splitter] I said: Shall I wear my shoes now? What’s the deal? Mills joked with a smile. But that soon turns into a conversation inside the room where it sounds like, “Okay, we’re here now. Let’s roll the ball, let’s have fun, and let’s circle.”

That’s a mantra that the Nets should stick to as they navigate the next two weeks without much of their roster — possibly during next weekend’s Christmas Day encounter with the Los Angeles Lakers. Tuesday marked the start of a five-game match with the Nets family. From there, Brooklyn heads west to face the Portland Trail Blazers on December 23 before playing its game in Los Angeles this season: first against the Lakers on Christmas Day on ABC/ESPN, then against the Clippers on December 27.

All of the players who tested positive for COVID-19 were “mostly” asymptomatic, Nash said. In order to clear the league’s health and safety protocols, a player must either be out for at least 10 days, or return two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart. Assuming each player falls within the 10-day return time frame, a Christmas Day game against the Lakers will be the closest possible return date for any of them.

As for another of the Brooklyn missing players, Nash said there is no update Keri Irvingprestige because he is still not immune, and therefore ineligible to play games in New York City.

“I don’t have any updates,” Nash said before the match. “I’ve reached out to him but completely out of question and just in life in general. So, we called last week, but not with any information or idea that things are changing.

“I know he’s practicing and I know he’d love to play, but I think the boundaries are still the same as before the recent reports.”

Durant said, “Kerry is my brother, and we talk about everything. I’d rather keep these conversations at home, though.”

ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported that Brooklyn could have up to five hardship exceptions to try and fill their list with more than the eight cadavers available Tuesday, but each of them would cost Brooklyn nearly $500,000 in luxury taxes.

As the networks try to figure out where to go from here, it could mean continuing to put a heavy burden on Durant. Even before he played 48 minutes on Tuesday night, he was averaging more minutes per game this season (36.9) than it has been since the 2013-14 season, when he was named Player of the Year.

But when asked if he’s worried about minutes piling up early in the season, Durant said it’s not something he’s focused on.

“I’m just trying to do what’s needed, man,” Durant said. “I mean, I want to be there. I want to play. I want to win, so it starts from there.

“So, whatever I have to do to accomplish these three things, I’ll do it.”

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