The Brooklyn Nets on Thursday ended a five-match winning streak for the Philadelphia 76ers with a 122-109 NBA win, while reigning champions Los Angeles Lakers recorded their second defeat of the season against San Antonio Spurs.
Joe Harris starred for the Nets, scoring 28 points, as Caris LeVert scored 22 and registered 10 assists to help his side prevail over the most in-form side in the league with two of their best players, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, missing out.
Durant’s absence was due to COVID-19 protocols while personal matters saw Irving missing from action, AFP reported.
Nets coach Steve Nash said he wasn’t sure of the exact reason for Irving’s absence, adding that it came as a surprise to him. He also said that Durant, who is undergoing quarantine after potential COVID-19 exposure, might return to the squad on Sunday.
The Nets registered their second consecutive double-digit win after losing four out of the opening five games, with Harris finishing just two points below his career-best return.
LeVert, who replaced Irving in the squad, scored 18 points by halftime with the Nets converting 45.4% of their shots and scored 35 points from 20 Philadelphia turnovers.
For the 76ers, star players Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were subdued, registering 20 and 11 points respectively. Shake Milton replaced Seth Curry and led the scoring with 24 points and seven assists.
Curry, who made the trip with the team, was reported after the game to have returned a positive test for coronavirus, forcing the Sixers to remain overnight in New York so they can conduct further testing to see if the virus has spread to any of the other players.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points to lead the San Antonio Spurs past the Los Angeles Lakers 118-109.
DeMar DeRozan had 19 points and eight assists, Dejounte Murray contributed 18 points and eight boards and Rudy Gay had 15 points for the Spurs, who snapped the Lakers’ four-game winning streak.
LeBron James had 27 points, 12 assists and Anthony Davis finished with 23 points in the loss.
Elsewhere, Damian Lillard delivered 39 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as the Portland Trail Blazers breezed past the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves 135-117.
C.J. McCollum tallied 20 points and Jusuf Nurkic finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for Portland, who snapped a two-game skid and posted its highest-scoring effort of the season.
D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards scored 26 points apiece for the Timberwolves.
Naz Reid chipped in 13 points in 16 minutes as Minnesota dropped its sixth straight game.
The Trail Blazers set a franchise record with 47 points in the second quarter. The team’s previous high for second-quarter points was 45, achieved twice, first in 1973 and then again in 2014.
In Memphis, Andre Drummond posted game-highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds, while Larry Nance Jr. added 18 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the host Memphis Grizzlies 94-90.
Jonas Valanciunas finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Memphis, which dropped its third straight. Brandon Clarke added 14 points and nine rebounds, Dillon Brooks tallied 11 points and Kyle Anderson scored 10.
Just before tipoff, both teams knelt at the sidelines in response to Wednesday’s riot by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters on the US Capitol Hill which resulted in five deaths, including one police officer who succumbed to his injuries on Thursday night.