Kyrie Irving expected back when Nets visit Pistons

NBA Basketball

The Brooklyn Nets should have at least one more superstar back in action on Tuesday when they visit Detroit.

Coach Steve Nash said on Monday he expects Kyrie Irving to return from a one-game absence due to a sprained right finger. Brooklyn lost to Philadelphia 124-108 on Saturday.

Kevin Durant isn’t expected to be cleared to play until later in the week due to COVID-19 contact tracing. Durant was held out of the start of Friday’s 123-117 loss to Toronto, played 19 minutes, then was ruled out during the third quarter.

“He taken about 90 negative tests so hopefully he can join our ball club as soon as possible,” Nash quipped.

The team’s other star, James Harden, led Brooklyn in points (26), assists (10) and rebounds (eight) on Saturday but it wasn’t nearly enough to prevent its third loss in four games.

Landry Shamet provided a spark off the bench with a season-high 22 points. Acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers during the offseason, Shamet has scored in double figures in four of the last five games.

“He’s finding his rhythm, his confidence,” Nash said. “We all know (what) he can be, and hopefully he can continue to build some momentum and belief and confidence and let it fly. He’s always worked hard, he’s always competed. He’s one of the guys you know is going to stick to the game plan, both ends of the floor. Making shots is the last step, and he’s starting to make them.”

The Nets are playing the second contest of a difficult stretch in which they play seven of eight games on the road.

Brooklyn added some depth to its front court on Monday by reaching an agreement with free agent Noah Vonleh. The 25-year-old has averages of 5.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 335 career games (171 starts) across six NBA seasons.

The Pistons will have a different look after trading their sixth man, point guard Derrick Rose, to the New York Knicks for Dennis Smith Jr. and a second-round pick. Smith could jump right into Rose’s former role after falling out of the rotation in New York.

“Adding another young player who was a high draft pick alongside a draft asset advances our goals in building for the future,” Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said.

Detroit will be looking to end a four-game slide, with all of those losses coming during a winless West Coast trip.

The Pistons nearly knocked off the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, taking the Lakers to double overtime before succumbing 135-129. Detroit lost by double-digit margins in its three previous games.

“We can definitely build off of it,” guard Delon Wright said. “We take the champions to double overtime, that means we can compete with anybody in this league on any given night. It’s the NBA. We’re NBA players. We have to play with that chip on our shoulders each night.”

Detroit played without Rose and two other regulars, Blake Griffin (rest) and Wayne Ellington (calf), in that game. Wright logged 46 minutes and had 22 points and matched his season-best of 10 assists.

As usual, Jerami Grant led the offense and matched his season-highs of 32 points and six assists while Josh Jackson contributed a season-high 28 points off the bench.

“I’m happy with the way guys fought,” Jackson said. “We’ve just got to do it for a full 48 minutes — sometimes, as you saw (Saturday), even longer. It’s something we’re still working on.”

Grant, acquired in a sign-and-trade with Denver prior to the season, is averaging 24 points per game.

–Field Level Media

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