Two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant returned to the Brooklyn Nets' lineup on Sunday and but Brooklyn still lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant, who missed three consecutive games because of the NBA's health and safety protocols, dropped a game-high 36 points in his return to the floor but even that wasn't enough as the Nets lost 129-116.
Meanwhile, Nets star guard Kyrie Irving missed his third consecutive game due to personal reasons. "All the communication with Ky between the organization, I'm going to keep private," Nets head coach Steve Nash said, "but I'm sure you'll hear from him at some point."
Irving has had a good start to the season, averaging 27.1, 6.1 assists, and 5.3 rebounds per game. Irving has missed several games now but coach Nash doesn't worry at all about the guard potentially falling out of his rhythm.
"I don't worry about [Irving] falling out of rhythm," Nash said. "He's a brilliant basketball player."
Durant worked out at home
Last spring, Durant tested positive for COVID-19 and is still showing antibodies in his testing.
He was recently exposed to a person that tested positive for the coronavirus so he missed three consecutive games because he was in quarantine. "I wouldn't say it was a struggle," Durant, who missed all of last season with an Achilles injury, said.
"I definitely would've loved to be out there with my teammates, but COVID put us under these circumstances and a lot of guys around the league are under protocol. It's something we knew coming into the season may happen.
"I wasn't too upset about it, but I'm glad I'm back playing though." The Nets had a 15-point lead in the first set but the Thunder scored 37 points in the third quarter and 35 points in the fourth quarter to overturn the deficit.
"It's just pride. No matter what defense you're in, you've got to sit down and guard someone. And we didn't guard tonight," Nash said. "I didn't sense the pride. I didn't sense the competitive fire in the second half.
I thought it was a lack of respect. We've got to learn from this and get better." Like Nash, Durant didn't want to speak in Irving's name. "I wouldn't speak for Kyrie, I'll let him do that for himself," Durant said.
"I'm sure you guys will see him soon when he comes back, and we support him 100 percent and pray for the best."