Kyrie Irving scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Brooklyn Nets made his season debut a successful one by overcoming a 19-point deficit for a 129-121 victory over the host Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
Irving returned as a part-time player due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19 and the vaccine mandate in New York City, which prevents him from playing in home games. He was dominant in the fourth quarter as the Nets snapped a season-high three-game losing streak.
With his father, Drederick, sitting courtside, Irving shot 9 of 17 from the field in 31:59 of play. It was his first action since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Milwaukee when he injured his ankle.
Kevin Durant led the Nets with 39 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as Brooklyn shot 56.3 percent and made 13 of 19 shots in the fourth. James Harden added 18 while LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 13.
The Pacers dropped their sixth straight and blew a double-digit lead to the Nets for the second time this season despite getting big games from Domantas Sabonis and Lance Stephenson.
76ers 116, Magic 106
Joel Embiid scored 31 points and Seth Curry had 20 points and 12 assists, helping Philadelphia rally past host Orlando in head coach Doc Rivers’ return to the bench.
After being named the NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month for December on Tuesday, Embiid made 12-of-22 field goals and 7-of-10 free throws as Philadelphia extended its winning streak to five games.
Cole Anthony (right ankle sprain), who had not played since Dec. 23 and has missed 14 games this season due to injury, had 26 points and seven assists for the Magic despite leaving briefly in the third quarter with an injury to his left ankle. Wendell Carter Jr. (non-COVID illness) had 12 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth straight double-double.
Jazz 115, Nuggets 109
Bojan Bogdanovic had a season-high 36 points and a career-best 13 rebounds, Rudy Gay scored 18 points and visiting Utah beat Denver.
Donovan Mitchell scored 17 points, Royce O’Neale had 13 points and 11 rebounds, Jordan Clarkson also scored 13 and Mike Conley scored 10 for Utah, which has won 10 straight road games.
Nikola Jokic notched his 64th career triple-double with 26 points, 21 rebounds and 11 assists, Monte Morris and Will Barton scored 20 points each and Aaron Gordon had 17 points for Denver.
Heat 115, Trail Blazers 109
Max Strus shot 7-of-13 from 3-point range and scored a team-high 25 points in his return, and Miami used an 18-4 run in the fourth quarter to hold off host Portland.
Behind the shooting of Strus and Duncan Robinson, both of whom made their return from health and safety protocols, Miami hit 19-of-41 from 3-point range. Robinson scored all 12 of his points off the bench on 4-of-6 shooting from deep.
Portland trailed almost the entire night, and by as many as 19 points in the second quarter. But behind Anfernee Simons, who scored a game-high 28 points, the Blazers chipped away at the deficit.
Mavericks 99, Warriors 82
Luka Doncic went for a game-high 26 points and Dallas dominated visiting Golden State from both the 3-point and free-throw lines in a victory on a night when the hosts retired Dirk Nowitzki’s number.
Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined for 31 points and six 3-pointers in the Mavericks’ fourth straight win. Finney-Smith totaled 17 points on 4-of-7 shooting from long range, while Jalen Brunson had 15 points and Hardaway 14 for the Mavericks, who had been 1-11 this season when getting held under 100 points.
The Dallas defense shackled Stephen Curry into 1-for-9 shooting on 3-pointers and Golden State to 5-for-28 overall from beyond the arc, outscoring the visitors 36-15 on threes.
Raptors 117, Bucks 111
Pascal Siakam scored a season-high 33 points as visiting Toronto took down Milwaukee to extend its win streak to four games.
The 6-foot-9 forward shot 13 of 23 and also collected five rebounds and six assists to lead the Raptors over Milwaukee for the second time this season. Gary Trent Jr. and OG Anunoby chipped in 22 points, and Fred VanVleet notched 19.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined due to a non-COVID illness, Khris Middleton paced Milwaukee with 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Jordan Nwora tallied 17 points, and DeMarcus Cousins contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Jrue Holiday stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, eight rebounds and 12 assists.
Spurs 99, Celtics 97
Dejounte Murray had 22 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds in his return from the NBA’s health and safety protocol to help San Antonio hold off host Boston.
Murray was cleared from COVID protocol before the game and returned after missing five games. Derrick White and Devin Vassell added 17 points apiece for the Spurs, who snapped their four-game losing streak. San Antonio held on after taking a 99-95 lead with 1:32 to play.
Boston’s Jaylen Brown led all scorers with 30 points but missed a layup as time expired. Jayson Tatum added 19 points and eight rebounds in his return from the COVID protocol in Boston’s 10th loss in 16 games.
Hornets 140, Pistons 111
Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a career-high nine 3-point shots on the way to 32 points as Charlotte whipped visiting Detroit.
Oubre was 10-for-16 overall from the field, attempting 14 shots from 3-point range. Eight of his 3s came in the fourth quarter for the Hornets, who made 24 of 42 3-pointers in the game. Miles Bridges and Gordon Hayward each scored 19 points to help the Hornets snap a two-game skid.
Trey Lyles led the Pistons with 17 points. Cade Cunningham added 16 points, Josh Jackson had 15 and Saddiq Bey scored 11. Micah Potter had eight points but didn’t score in the second half.
Rockets 114, Wizards 111
Kevin Porter Jr. nailed a step-back 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left and Christian Wood recorded his 18th double-double as Houston snapped an eight-game skid with a victory over host Washington.
Porter and Wood returned from one-game suspensions to help the Rockets overcome a late Wizards rally, one co-authored by Kyle Kuzma (24 points, nine rebounds) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (26 points, five 3-pointers). Raul Neto tied the game at 111-111 on a driving layup with 22.6 seconds left.
But Porter, who shot just 3 for 13, made his lone field goal of the second half count. Wood totaled 22 points, 11 rebounds and three steals while Jalen Green added 22 points and Eric Gordon 19.
Timberwolves 98, Thunder 90
Anthony Edwards scored a team-high 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting, and host Minnesota held on for a win over Oklahoma City.
Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns scored 17 points and pulled down 16 rebounds in his return from a six-game absence in the league’s COVID-19 protocol. D’Angelo Russell returned from a five-game absence in the protocol and finished with six points on 3-for-12 shooting.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 19 points. Rookie Josh Giddey posted a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds, and Aaron Wiggins finished with 11 points.
Hawks 108, Kings 102
Kevin Huerter scored the go-ahead layup and contributed 25 points and a season-best 11 rebounds off the bench to lead Atlanta to a victory over host Sacramento.
Huerter scored 11 fourth-quarter points on a night in which the Hawks played without star Trae Young (back), who scored a career-best 56 points during a 136-131 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.
Cam Reddish scored 18 points, Danilo Gallinari tallied 16 and Delon Wright added 15 for Atlanta, which won for just the fifth time in the past 15 games. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 14 points and Clint Capela added 11 points and 14 rebounds as the Hawks ended a string of five straight losses in Sacramento.
–Field Level Media
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