Kyrie Irving Puts Nets Teammates on Notice After First Loss Without Kevin Durant

Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons

Getty Kyrie Irving (left), formerly of the Brooklyn Nets.

For those who may be tardy to the party, Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant will be out for at least two weeks after spraining his right MCL in their win over the Miami Heat on January 8. The injury happened after Durant had a collision with Heat star Jimmy Butler which caused him to land awkwardly and leave the game.

With Durant out of action until at least the end of the month, the Nets find themselves at a disadvantage. The All-Star forward and his 29.7 points per game, now sidelined, have left his Nets coaches and teammates searching for solutions to fill the void he left behind. But Durant’s co-star Kyrie Irving already has the answer. The star point guard knows that the team will have to win by committee.

“From each one of us, every single night. It’s just going to be a collective effort,” Irving said of filling the void left by Durant.

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Kyrie Irving Sounds off on Loss to Celtics

So far, the Nets are 0-1 since Durant’s injury after losing to the Boston Celtics 109-98 on January 12. Though the Nets were without their best player, Durant, they put up a thorough effort. They led for the majority of the first half and kept the game within striking distance in the third quarter. But the pesky defense of the Celtics was able to ground the Nets in the fourth quarter, allowing them to score just 16 points in the final frame en route to another victory.

But as disappointing as the loss was, Irving knows that the Nets’ opportunity to beat Boston was right there for the taking. The difference between winning and losing was the Celtics doing a better job of seizing their opportunities in the fourth quarter than Brooklyn did.

“They won the race to get the fourth quarter [and] started aggressive,” Irving added. “A few times, calls could have gone either way when the results ended up the way they are, and I feel like we definitely could have taken some better shots in the fourth quarter, got some defensive stops, but it didn’t happen for us tonight. And when you give up any opportunities for them to capitalize, they’re a great team, they’re gonna do so.”

Jacque Vaughn Slams Nets Shot Selection

Though the Nets lost their matchup with the east-leading Celtics, they did show flashes of promise. The ‘collective effort’ that Irving previously mentioned was in effect as they had contributions from several unlikely sources. Brooklyn had five players score in double figures, including TJ Warren and Seth Curry, who combined for 31 points off the bench.

But one thing Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn wants to see his team improve is taking fewer midrange shots. Although it is something Durant has provided this season that has given the Nets an overabundance of floor spacing, Vaughn wants his team to stick to what they know.

“I love that we had 34 [3-pointers] up, [but] I don’t like that we were 12-for-32 from midrange,” Vaughn said after the loss to the Celtics.

“That’s just inefficient. With Kevin, taking 32 midrange [shots], we can roll with that. But the other guys, that’s not the basket that we want to fit in. We take 10 more 3s or 15 more 3s, I love it. But those shots are inefficient. You end up being 12 of 32, that’s why you have 16 points in the fourth.”

The Nets can get back on track in their next game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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