Short-handed Nets snap 76ers’ win streak, Blazers cruise past T-Wolves

Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris (12) drives in for a layup against the Philadelphia 76ers in the third quarter at Barclays Centre January 7, 2021. — Reuters pic
Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris (12) drives in for a layup against the Philadelphia 76ers in the third quarter at Barclays Centre January 7, 2021. — Reuters pic

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LOS ANGELES, Jan 8 — Joe Harris scored a team high 28 points as the short-handed Brooklyn Nets snapped the Philadelphia 76ers’ five-game NBA winning streak with a 122-109 victory on Thursday.

Caris LeVert scored 22 points and had 10 assists as the Nets cooled off the  NBA’s hottest team despite missing their two top players Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

“We are a totally different team when those guys are out here,” guard LeVert said, “but I think we’ve done a great job of having a next-man-up mentality, guys stepping into those roles and fulfilling what we need as a team.:

Durant sat out due to Covid-19 protocols and Irving missed the game due to “personal reasons”.

Nets coach Steve Nash said before the contest that Irving’s absence came as a surprise to him and he remained unsure of the exact issue.

“I sent him a message in the last half-hour and haven’t heard back yet,” Nash said. “But obviously thinking about him and hope that all is well. It’s a private matter.”

Nash did say that Durant, who had to quarantine after possible Covid-19 exposure, could return on Sunday.

In the meantime, Harris got the job done, finishing two points shy of his career high as the Nets posted their second straight double-digit win after dropping four of five. 

LeVert, who started in place of Irving, made the most of his opportunity. He scored 18 points by halftime as the Nets shot 45.4 per cent and scored 35 points off 20 Philadelphia turnovers. 

“When we play connected and we have that fighting spirit, we give ourselves a great chance every night no matter who’s available,” Nash said.

Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons had quiet nights for the 76ers. Embiid scored 20 points on seven-of-14 shooting while Simmons had just 11 points. 

Shake Milton started in place of injured Seth Curry and led the Sixers with 24 points and seven assists. 

Curry, who made the trip with the team, was reported after the game to have returned a positive test for coronavirus, forcing the Sixers to remain overnight in New York so they can conduct further testing to see if the virus has spread to any of the other players.

Elsewhere, Damian Lillard delivered 39 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as the Portland Trail Blazers breezed past the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves 135-117.

CJ McCollum tallied 20 points and Jusuf Nurkic finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for Portland, who snapped a two-game skid and posted its highest-scoring effort of the season. 

D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards scored 26 points apiece for the Timberwolves. 

Naz Reid chipped in 13 points in 16 minutes as Minnesota dropped its sixth straight game. 

The Trail Blazers set a franchise record with 47 points in the second quarter. The team’s previous high for second-quarter points was 45, achieved twice, first in 1973 and then again in 2014. 

In Memphis, Andre Drummond posted game-highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds, Larry Nance Jr. added 18 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the host Memphis Grizzlies 94-90.

Jonas Valanciunas finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Memphis, which dropped its third straight. Brandon Clarke added 14 points and nine rebounds, Dillon Brooks tallied 11 points and Kyle Anderson scored 10.

Just before tipoff, both teams knelt at the sidelines in response to Wednesday’s riots by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters on Capitol Hill which resulted in five deaths, including one police officer who succumbed to his injuries on Thursday night. — AFP  

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