Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving put together another dynamic scoring display, but for the first time in the young NBA season, it did not result in a win for the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets will attempt to bounce back from their first loss Monday night when they host the Memphis Grizzlies in the back end of their first back-to-back games.
Brooklyn began the Durant and Irving era by posting consecutive blowout wins over the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, becoming the first team since the 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers to win its first two games by at least 20 points.
On Sunday, the Nets got another big night from the duo but wound up taking their first loss when their comeback from a 16-point deficit fell short in a 106-104 loss at Charlotte. Durant scored 29 but missed a game-tying fadeaway with seven seconds remaining while Irving finished with 25.
“It’s a long season and a long process, less than 30 days in here,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We’re still trying to find ourselves and figure out who we are. They’ve been exceptional thus far with their effort, their engagement. They’ve been exceptional with their effort, and tonight was a little bit of a letdown, but that’s going to happen. When you’re playing basketball, almost every time you can’t be perfect every time.”
Durant and Irving are the first duo in franchise history to score at least 20 points in each of the team’s first three games. It is possible Durant or Irving could sit out Monday due to the back-to-back and the fact that both are coming off injuries, but any decisions likely will be made Monday.
Whatever lineup the Nets use, it is unlikely Spencer Dinwiddie will play Monday. Dinwiddie strained his right knee early in the third quarter making a pass to Durant and did not return, but the Nets did not know the extent of his injury after Sunday’s loss.
One area the Nets hope to correct is controlling the paint. After allowing under 40 percent shooting in its first two games, Brooklyn was outscored 64-26 in the paint against Charlotte.
Memphis heads to Brooklyn after allowing 126.5 points in double-digit home losses to the San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks. The Grizzlies hope to avoid their first 0-3 start since dropping the first four games of the 2004-05 season.
The Grizzlies are winless despite two big games from Ja Morant, who is averaging 36 points. He scored 44 in Wednesday’s 131-119 loss to San Antonio and followed it with 28 in Saturday’s 122-112 loss to Atlanta, when the Grizzlies were outscored 19-9 in the final 5:03.
Although Morant is off to a strong start offensively, he is getting frustrated by a lack of calls from officials. His frustration earned him a technical foul in the fourth quarter Saturday during a game in which he took four free throws.
“It’s my second year,” Morant said. “I let a lot of stuff slide, but I’m not going for that no more. Everybody who knows me, knows I’m always smiling, laughing, and when somebody gets fed up, that’s what happens.”
Memphis swept the series from the Nets last season, getting a 134-133 overtime home win on Oct. 27, 2019, and a 118-79 rout in Brooklyn on March 4.
–Field Level Media