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Kyrie Irving likely to return for Nets against Lakers

Nets guard Kyrie Irving looks on against the

Nets guard Kyrie Irving looks on against the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half of an NBA basketball game at Barclays Center on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

There were a couple of welcome sights at the Nets’ training facility on Wednesday.

First, Kyrie Irving (hamstring tightness) was a full participant in practice and is probable to return to the lineup on Thursday against the Lakers.

Secondly, Kevin Durant (Achilles) was seen taking some jump shots on the floor.

“No update,” coach Kenny Atkinson replied when asked about Durant, who is expected to miss the entire season. “Just happy to see him out there shooting and working. He was in film session today, great presence.”

Irving sat out of Monday’s loss to Philadelphia as a precautionary measure. . He has missed 27 games overall this season because of injury.  The 27-year-old All-Star point guard is averaging 26.5 points and 6.9 assists.

“We’ll just feel it out,” Atkinson replied when asked if Irving will be on a minutes restriction. “I was just talking about it with the performance team. We’ll talk about it. I really have to have a long-term, smart view about this. That’s just the way we’ll approach it. So that’s where we are.”

Injuries have continued to derail the Nets (18-24) — who have lost four in a row — preventing the team from developing chemistry. DeAndre Jordan (dislocated finger) is questionable to play against Los Angeles, as is Nic Claxton (shoulder).

After dealing with the Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (29 points, 12 rebounds, four assists Saturday) and 76ers' Ben Simmons (34 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists Monday), the Nets have to try to contain LeBron James and Anthony Davis, one of the best duos in the league.

“This is just what the NBA is,” Atkinson said. “I just think the healthier we get, the better we’re gonna be.”

With the Nets ranked 25th in offense, 12th in defense and 28th in three-point field goal after passing the midway mark of the season, Spencer Dinwiddie was asked about the state of the team.

“If you look at it as a whole we have a ‘Big Three’ of KD, Ky and Caris [LeVert]. Those three in 42 games could’ve played (126) total games and they’ve probably played like [32] and we’re still in the playoffs,” Dinwiddie said. “We’re not going to make excuses and we have a ‘next-man-up’ mentality. Name another team that has done that.

“In a lot of ways we’ve played with that ‘Brooklyn Grit,’ that effort, that hustle. There’s a reason our defense has maintained a high level. But obviously if guys who are paid to score are out and your offense kind of struggles, that’s kind of why they’re here. It’s no fault of their own, injuries [expletive]. But we expect to be able to come together as a unit as we get healthy and continue to round into form.”  

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