LOS ANGELES — With the suspended Kyrie Irving presumably watching from his home in New Jersey, the Nets continued to play their best basketball of the season. Lock down fourth-quarter defense and some big shots from Seth Curry carried the Nets to a 110-95 win over the Clippers at Crypto.com Arena Saturday.
The Nets (6-7) have now won four of their five games without Irving, their All-Star guard. They secured the win Saturday with a 20-2 run late in the final quarter. Durant led all scorers with 27 points, but it was Curry who was the difference maker as he scored 13 of his 22 points in the final quarter, including back-to-back three-pointers that gave the Nets a 99-88 lead with less than four minutes left.
The form Curry showed was particularly encouraging given that he struggled earlier in the season coming back from offseason ankle surgery. So far, the team has not let Curry play in games on consecutive nights but both he and coach Jacque Vaughn held open the possibility that he might play Sunday against the Lakers.
Durant said Curry’s contributions were key in getting the Nets past a talented Clippers team that, like the Nets, is starting to play better after a bad start to the season.
“It means a lot,” Durant said of Curry’s big game. “He’s somebody that can get hot and be a wild card for us, coming off the bench . . . We’re going to have to be one of those teams that on any given night, someone is going to have to step up and make plays for us. We’re obviously missing Kyrie, so we have to look for where those points are going to come from.”
The Nets suspended Irving for a minimum five games without pay on Nov. 3 after he linked to an antisemitic film on his Instagram and Twitter accounts on Oct. 27. The team does not know when Irving will return, though coach Jacque Vaughn said Saturday that he would not be available Sunday night’s game against the Lakers.
The Nets, who struggled defensively early in the season, held the Clippers’ Paul George scoreless in the fourth quarter. For the game, George had a team-high 17 points but shot 5-for-21 and was just 1-for-6 from three-point range.
“The mentality behind the defense is I think you see everyone participating every single play,” Vaughn said.