Durant carries Nets past 76ers for another short-handed win

Dec 16, 2021, 5:04 AM | Updated: 11:42 pm
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) drives to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobi...

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) drives to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in New York. The Nets won 114-105. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

NEW YORK (AP) — With so much of his team missing, Kevin Durant probably needs to play great for the Brooklyn Nets to win.

He might be playing as well as ever.

Durant scored 34 points, making a four-point play with the game tied and 1:46 left, and the Nets beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-105 on Thursday night for another short-handed victory.

The Nets were missing seven players because of coronavirus health and safety protocols but still had Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer who added 11 rebounds and eight assists.

That follows games of 51 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and 34 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in the previous two.

“It’s a challenge knowing how you’re going to come in to the games because a lot of these teams, they scheme for me a little different,” Durant said.

Whatever the 76ers’ scheme was, it didn’t work well enough.

“I mean, that’s what he does on a nightly basis,” guard Seth Curry said.

Blake Griffin and Nic Claxton both added a season-high 17 points for the Nets, who had just nine players available. Patty Mills scored 14 points in Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn’s fourth straight victory.

Joel Embiid had 32 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the 76ers’ third straight loss, dropping them to 15-15. Curry scored 29 points for a team that was angry that Brooklyn wasn’t called for any fouls in the fourth quarter.

“I don’t remember the last time that happened, but still had a chance there,” Curry said.

It was Brooklyn’s second straight game without starters James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre’ Bembry, along with reserves Bruce Brown, Paul Millsap, Jevon Carter and James Johnson.

“We can all hoop,” Claxton said of the young players forced into extended action. “A lot of attention is going to KD so we’re just making plays.”

The Nets built a 20-point lead but the 76ers, playing for the second straight night, tied it at 103 on Embiid’s basket with 1:55 to play. Durant answered with a 3-pointer while being fouled by Tobias Harris, who had a nightmarish game on both ends.

Griffin followed with a 3-pointer to make it 110-103 and rookie David Duke Jr. added two free throws to put it away.

The Nets shot 65% and led 39-25 after one and pushed it to 54-35 when Griffin, who had fallen out of the rotation entirely but is now starting, converted a three-point play.

The Sixers trailed 66-46 late in the half but outscored Brooklyn 31-19 in the third, with Embiid and Curry combining for 25, to cut it to 85-79.


76ers: Harris shot 3 for 17, missing all five 3-point attempts. … Coach Doc Rivers said there was an organizational discussion about some unspecified policy changes to be more vigilant against the coronavirus. Embiid and Harris were among the Sixers who were sidelined by the virus earlier this season. “We want to be the team with the least (cases),” Rivers said. “We lead still, I think, in COVID games off. That one stretch was brutal for us and now other teams are going through it. So it’s no fun.”

Nets: Veteran guard Langston Galloway, signed to a 10-day contract Thursday, had three points in nine minutes. … With Durant playing about 37 minutes a game, coach Steve Nash said there is a “lot of consideration” to getting the All-Star forward a break. The Nets play a home back-to-back against Orlando and Denver this weekend.


Though their coronavirus issues are mostly behind them, they aren’t over entirely for the 76ers. Georges Niang is in health and safety protocols and Rivers wonders if the league will have to take additional steps with cases rising.

“We have to do something because at this rate I’m scared to turn on ESPN right now. Just, more guys are out,” Rivers said.

So many for the Nets, in fact, that they are close to being unable to have the minimum eight to start a game. Though they avoided having to postpone, it means the limited players available

“So is it better to be over the threshold than to not be playing until you have a healthy roster?” Nash said. “Or is it better to have enough to play but to be short-handed and the burden and the toll it takes on these guys and knowing that you’re going to have guys coming back who haven’t been able to practice or play basketball. So it is definitely tricky to navigate.”


Brooklyn improved to 6-0 in games against the Atlantic Division. Philadelphia is 0-6.


76ers: Host New Orleans on Sunday night.

Nets: Host Orlando on Saturday night.


More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) battle for t...
Associated Press

LeBron in Vegas? He makes an expansion pitch to Adam Silver

LAS VEGAS (AP) — LeBron James came to Las Vegas for a preseason game. And a pitch. James, who has spoken in the past about wanting to eventually own an NBA franchise — with Las Vegas on his mind — sent a crystal-clear message to Commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday night, reminding him of his […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Dallas Stars' Jason Robertson skates during the third period of an NHL hockey game against t...
Associated Press

Stars sign 41-goal scorer Robertson to $31M, 4-year deal

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Jason Robertson has signed a $31 million, four-year contract with the Dallas Stars after the young 40-goal scorer missed the first two weeks of training camp. The Stars announced the deal late Wednesday night, after their exhibition game in Denver, only a week before the regular season opener Oct. 13 at […]
24 hours ago
The ski slopes are almost devoid of snow at the Tūroa ski field, on Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand on Se...
Associated Press

Missing snow puts famed New Zealand ski areas on precipice

TUROA SKI AREA, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand’s Turoa ski area is usually a white wonderland at this time of year, its deep snowpack supporting its famed spring skiing. This season, it’s largely a barren moonscape, with tiny patches of snow poking out between vast fields of jagged volcanic boulders. The ski area was […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Kansas City Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred in the seventh inning of a baseball game, May 1...
Associated Press

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians. The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, […]
24 hours ago
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) blocks a shot by Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25...
Associated Press

James scores 23 points, but not enough as Suns defeat Lakers

LAS VEGAS (AP) — LeBron James flashed his midseason form Wednesday night, scoring 23 points in 18 minutes before the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Lakers 112-115. James, who missed all seven of his shots in Los Angeles’ loss to Sacramento on Monday, was much more aggressive with the Lakers playing without Anthony Davis. […]
24 hours ago
Central Florida coach Gus Malzahn, left, and SMU coach Rhett Lashlee talk before an NCAA college fo...
Associated Press

UCF scores 31 unanswered points, beats SMU in AAC opener

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — John Rhys Plumlee threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the second half to Ryan O’Keefe, and UCF scored 31 unanswered points to beat SMU 41-19 on Wednesday night in a game postponed because of tropical weather. UCF trailed 13-10 at halftime before scoring four touchdowns in the […]
24 hours ago
Durant carries Nets past 76ers for another short-handed win