Nets guard James Harden reacts after making a three point...

Nets guard James Harden reacts after making a three point basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021, in Houston. Credit: AP/Eric Christian Smith

A COVID-19 outbreak left the Nets with the NBA’s minimum of eight available players for Tuesday night’s game against the Raptors at Barclays Center.

Six Nets, including star James Harden, were placed in the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday.

Paul Millsap was placed on the list on Monday. On Tuesday, he was joined by LaMarcus Aldridge, James Johnson, DeAndre’ Bembry and Jevon Carter – all of whom were placed on the list early in the day – plus Harden and Bruce Brown. The last two were added less than an hour before the scheduled tipoff.

Also early Tuesday, the Nets announced that Kevin Durant was questionable for the game because of right ankle soreness. It wasn’t until nearly 7 p.m. that the team announced that Durant was going to play.

Durant scored 51 points in the Nets’ last game, a victory on Sunday.

On Tuesday, the Nets started Durant, Patty Mills, David Duke Jr., Blake Griffin and Nic Claxton.

It was the first start for Duke in his third career game. The bench was Cam Thomas, Kessler Edwards and Day’Ron Sharpe. Edwards and Sharpe were called up from the G League Long Island Nets on Monday.

The Nets have five games – all at home – scheduled between Tuesday and Dec. 21 before they begin a Western swing in Portland on Dec. 23.

All the Nets players in the COVID protocol are vaccinated. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be allowed to play in Brooklyn under New York City rules (like with Kyrie Irving).

According to NBA rules, vaccinated players are placed in COVID protocols when they test positive or have an inconclusive result. The players must quarantine for 10 days or until they have two negative tests within 24 hours.

Coach Steve Nash said before the game – and before it was revealed that Harden and Brown were out, too – that his first thoughts were for the health of the players.

"First, we concern ourselves with their health and safety," he said. "Fortunately for us, they're predominantly asymptomatic. But there will be a period of time required for them to test negative and have our full group together."

Asked what the plan was for his rotation on Tuesday, Nash said: "Do you have any ideas? I’m open to ideas. It's a tricky situation trying to navigate a season, navigate a night within a week, within a season, trying to protect these guys as much as possible. But there'll be opportunities for some guys and we'll just do the best we can."

Nash said there "were a couple of coaches and a couple of staff affected as well" by the COVID outbreak.

"We're not naive enough to not have concerns about more people [within the organization] contracting the virus," he said. "But that's out of our hands. We just have to see what the test results are ... overall, we can't do a lot right now except waiting for results to come in and control what's in our hands. We're in a sense playing the waiting game and going to be ready to audible depending on what happens."

The NBA, NHL and NFL have been hit by increasingly large numbers of players being placed in their respective COVID protocols this week.

The NBA on Monday postponed two Chicago Bulls games, the first postponements this season because of COVID, due to an outbreak among players and staff. The Nets hosted the Bulls on Dec. 4.

"It's a new normal, but it's scary because I don't know that there's an end in sight," Nash said. "This is kind of the world we may live in for indefinitely. We've all been affected by this. I've lost family members. The day-to-day life, even if you haven't lost people, is changed and may not go back to what it was for like I said, indefinitely."

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