The Brooklyn Nets are officially on a winning streak again after defeating their Eastern Conference foe Miami Heat in a nail-biter that ended in a one-point victory. But the Nets’ win came at a high cost, in the form of their superstar Kevin Durant.
In the third quarter, Durant had a collision with Heat star Jimmy Butler which ended with Butler falling on the Nets star’s leg, causing him to land awkwardly. Though Durant immediately grabbed at his right knee, he did eventually pop up and try to play through the pain. But Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn called a timeout the next play to get Durant out of the game, after which he headed to the locker room and did not return.
Vaughn says Durant will “likely” have an MRI on January 9, per ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
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Claxton Sends Message on Nets Recent Success
Durant’s injury comes at a tough time, as the Nets are probably playing the best basketball of the Durant and Kyrie Irving era. They have won 14 of their last 15 games, including a 12-game win streak.
Some doubted if the Nets could ever get to the point of being a legit contender with all of the off-court drama that always seemed to find its way into Brooklyn’s locker room. But rising center Nic Claxton says the Nets always knew they were capable of being one of the NBA’s elite.
“We always knew what we were capable of with everybody healthy, but it’s one thing to actually go out and put the plan into action. So it’s good. Our confidence is definitely at an all-time high. We’ve just got to keep things rolling,” Claxton said via the New York Post.
“[It’s sustainable]. The talent on our roster speaks for itself. The talent we have, guys who can just go out and get a bucket at will, the shooters, the defense — especially the defense we’ve been playing lately, how consistent we’ve been. So it’s definitely sustainable if we just stay locked-in game-by-game. That’s our challenge.”
Jacque Vaughan Sends Message on Nic Claxton
Claxton has been one of the reasons the Nets have moved into the tier of being among the NBA’s elite. He is having the best season of his career as he is averaging career highs in nearly every statistical category, including an NBA-leading 2.6 blocks per game this year.
The Nets bet on Claxton becoming the best version of himself, and so far, it is paying off, as he looks like a legit starting center this season, something that could not be said about him in previous years. Claxton has a different demeanor about him this season, and his head coach has taken notice.
“You see it in his just the way he carries himself. He’s got a swag about him, which is pretty cool, that he extends onto the floor. I think he feels he impacts us at an unbelievable level on the defensive end of the floor, whether it’s six blocks, whether it’s 10 rebounds, or whatever it is,” Vaughn said via the New York Post.
“And then the comfort level on the offensive end, where Kyrie [Irving] and Kevin [Durant] will find him or being able to flash to the elbow and play split game and pivot and make a right-hand runner over somebody. Just feeling good on both ends of the floor.”
The Nets have a big test coming up in their next game against the Boston Celtics on January 12.