Nets regroup without Irving to host Suns

NBA Basketball
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The first time Kyrie Irving was significantly injured, the Brooklyn Nets experienced mixed results.

Brooklyn hopes Irving’s absence will not be as long this time, but the star guard will be out for at least a week with a sprained ligament in his right knee. He will miss Monday’s home game against the Phoenix Suns.

The Nets split the 26 games Irving missed from Nov. 16-Jan. 10 due to right shoulder impingement, which he admitted at a Jan. 4 press conference also was bursitis and might have needed surgery.

Irving was injured with 5:31 remaining in the fourth quarter of a 113-107 loss at Washington on Saturday when he got tangled up going for a rebound with Bradley Beal. The Nets held a four-point lead when Irving was injured and wound up getting outscored 15-6 the rest of the way.

“I’ve done some pretty decent things to my knee in the past,” Irving said after following up a 54-point night with a season-low 11 points. “Just want to make sure my ACL, my MCL, and my PCL, just make sure that our medical staff did their check. The most important thing was just my ACL making sure it was fine. But it was just a weird, weird, weird, weird fall. Just felt a lot of stretching and tension afterwards and just a bad fall.”

On Sunday, the Nets said an MRI showed a medial ligament sprain and announced he will be reevaluated in a week, meaning he will also sit out Wednesday’s home game against Golden State and Saturday’s visit to Toronto. The Nets also visit Indiana on Feb. 10 and host Toronto on Feb. 12 in their final games before the All-Star break, and it is possible they could hold Irving out of those games.

“It’s frustrating for all of us; but it’s just part of the game,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “Hopefully it’s not a long-term thing. We’ll have other guys step up and contribute.”

One of those Atkinson and the Nets are counting on is Spencer Dinwiddie, who could return to the starting lineup. Dinwiddie is averaging 21.5 points for the season and 23.0 points in his 33 starts, most of which occurred after Irving’s shoulder injury.

Phoenix (20-29) has tied a season-worst by going nine games under .500 for the third time this season. The Suns are 2-5 in their last seven games since winning four of five from Jan. 19-Jan. 18.

They began a three-game trip on Sunday when they shot 39 percent, missed 17 of 23 3-point tries and allowed the Milwaukee Bucks to shoot 49.5 percent and hit 15 3-pointers in a 129-108 loss.

Devin Booker scored 32 points Sunday and has topped 30 points in 14 of his last 19 games and in 24 games overall. DeAndre Ayton added 20 and 14 rebounds and has at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in five of his last nine games.

The Suns may need big nights from Booker and Ayton again Monday, especially if they play with 11 available players again. Ricky Rubio and Dario Saric sat out Sunday with ankle injuries, and Ty Jerome (left calf) also missed the game. The Suns were also missing Aron Baynes (sore hip), Cam Johnson (right quad) and Frank Kaminsky (right knee).

“You have a lot of guys out there on the floor who haven’t played with us,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “All of our guys are playing with some type of soreness, giving everything they got. Just two games ago, we beat one of the better teams in the league (Dallas), so we’re not going to hang our heads after a game like this.”

–Field Level Media

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