NBA: Durant fuels Nets win without Irving, Tatum leads Celtics past Pistons

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets controls the ball against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first half at Arena on Nov 12, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES – It was all teamwork on Saturday, as Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets clamped down defensively in a 110-95 National Basketball Association (NBA) victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, their fourth win in the five games since Kyrie Irving was suspended.

As the Nets’ resurgence continued despite turmoil, the Boston Celtics notched a sixth straight victory, Jayson Tatum’s 43 points and 10 rebounds fueling a 117-108 win over the Pistons in Detroit.

Brooklyn star guard Irving was suspended for at least five games by the Nets after using social media to publicise a film widely condemned as anti-semitic.

Although he has now sat out five games, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said before Saturday’s contest that Irving would not return for Sunday’s clash with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“We’re obviously missing (Irving) and we’ve got to look where those points are going to come from,” said Durant. “I think guys are doing that as a group.”

He excelled on both ends of the floor, scoring 27 points with six rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and two steals.

Reserve Seth Curry scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets (6-7) finally put the back-and-forth battle away.

Durant, 34, is the first player to start a season scoring at least 25 points in 13 straight games since Michael Jordan had 16 25-point games to open the 1988-89 campaign.

He has made sure the Nets have weathered the absence of Irving, as well as the continuing struggles of Ben Simmons, who came off the bench and scored just one basket.

Durant said defence was key to the win.

“We hung our hat on just staying in front of our man and making them shoot tough shots over us,” he said, after the Nets held Clippers star Paul George to just five-of-12 shooting and 17 points.

Centre Ivica Zubac scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and Marcus Morris added 13 as the Clippers (7-6) kept the pressure on until the Nets put together a late 18-2 scoring run.

“Even though we didn’t make shots (early) I felt like we were generating good shots, too, so eventually they were going to start to fall,” Durant added.

In Detroit, the Celtics overcame the injury absences of second-leading scorer Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Malcolm Brogdon to beat the Pistons for the second time in four days.

A tight first half ended with the Pistons up by two points, but Tatum then came alive in the second half with 28 points.

His back-to-back three pointers gave Boston a 106-97 lead midway through the fourth, then teammate Marcus Smart came up with a steal and drove for a layup as the Celtics took control and improved to 10-3. AFP

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