76ers Nets Basketball

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Saturday. Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving’s return to the Brooklyn Nets is starting with a trip to the NBA’s health and safety protocols – and Kevin Durant is joining him.

The Nets’ outbreak worsened Saturday when they announced both stars were in protocols, giving them a league-high 10 players on the injury report for that reason.

“These are unforeseen circumstances and I hate to say it, it’s almost like we’ve gone back to six months, a year ago, unfortunately with the cases rising,” Nets General Manager Sean Marks said.

Durant already was scheduled for a night off to rest Saturday against Orlando on the opening night of a back-to-back. Instead, he became ineligible to play anyway when he was added to the injury report.

The Nets decided Friday that Irving would rejoin them for practices and road games, though he remains ineligible to play at home because he hasn’t met New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for athletes playing in the city’s public venues.

Irving first needed to get tested to be cleared to play, and apparently he either tested positive or had an inconclusive result. The Nets also acknowledged the risk of bringing Irving back at this time, with Marks saying he hadn’t spoken to him about whether he intended to get vaccinated.


“There’s also a risk for Kyrie when a guy comes in and if they’re not vaccinated,” Marks said. “I don’t want to get into those type of discussions, but that’s a risk for him coming into this environment, not just the team and so forth. But we’re all well aware of the status and his status and moving forward and how we’ll navigate this as best we can.”

James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre’ Bembry, Bruce Brown, Jevon Carter, Paul Millsap, James Johnson and rookie Day’Ron Sharpe all are listed as out because of the protocols.

Needing to have eight players to start a game, the Nets scrapped their plan to rest Patty Mills and said he would be available. They also signed swingman James Ennis III and guard Shaquille Harrison to 10-day contracts.

Chicago previously had 10 players in health and safety protocols, causing two of their games this week to be postponed. Three of them were cleared as of Friday, putting the Bulls on track to resume Sunday against the Lakers.

Brooklyn’s woes make Orlando’s seem minor. The Magic still have five players out for protocols.

Also Saturday, Cavaliers rookie forward Evan Mobley entered health and safety protocols.


Mobley has been a major reason for Cleveland’s unexpected and surprising start this season. The No. 3 overall draft pick has been as good as advertised while helping the Cavs go 18-12 and surge into fourth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

Mobley missed four games earlier this season with an elbow sprain, and the Cavaliers lost them all. Mobley also sat out Cleveland’s 35-point win over Houston on Wednesday with a hip injury not believed to be serious.

Cleveland, which won just 22 games last season, is riding a five-game winning streak heading into Saturday’s game at Milwaukee. The Bucks will be without superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was placed in health protocols earlier this week.

Cavaliers swingman Isaac Okoro was also placed in protocols on Thursday, and the coronavirus has sidelined several other prominent players across the NBA.

The 7-foot Mobley is averaging 13.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 blocks. The former USC standout was named the league’s top rookie for October and November.



MAGIC 100, NETS 93: Robin Lopez had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Orlando won at New York.

Gary Harris added 17 points, Chuma Okeke had 15, and Franz Wagner 14 to help the Magic improve to 6-25.

Patty Mills led the Nets with 23 points.

ROCKETS 116, PISTONS 107: Christian Wood led a balanced attack with 21 points and eight rebounds as Houston won at Detroit, handing the Pistons their 14th straight loss.

It matches the longest single-season skid in Pistons history, including 14-game streaks in 1979-80 and 1993-94. They had a 21-game streak spread between the 1979-80 and 1980-81 seasons.

Eric Gordon added 18 points for Houston, which had lost four of five. The Rockets had seven players in double figures.


Saddiq Bey scored 23 points and Cade Cunningham added 21 for Detroit, which hasn’t won since a 97-89 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Nov. 17.

RAPTORS 119, WARRIORS 100: Fred VanVleet had 27 points and 12 assists, Scottie Barnes scored 21 points and Toronto won at home against short-handed Golden State.

Golden State was without Steph Curry (rest), Draymond Green (right hip), Andre Iguodala (right knee), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot) and Andrew Wiggins (left knee). The five returned to California after Friday’s win in Boston rather than risking COVID-19 exposure, and a potential quarantine, in Canada.

THUNDER 104, CLIPPERS 103: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a 27-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Oklahoma City a victory at home against Los Angeles.

On Wednesday night, Gilgeous-Alexander hit a 30-footer with 1.4 seconds to tie the game against New Orleans, but Devonte Graham drained a 60-foot heave as time expired for the winner.

This time, Gilgeous-Alexander hit the game’s last dramatic shot, and his teammates mobbed him as he ran downcourt.

Lu Dort scored 29 points after sitting out Oklahoma City’s previous game because of a sprained left ankle. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 18 points, and rookie Josh Giddey had eight points, a career-high 18 rebounds and 10 assists.

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