For the second straight game, the Nets made a decision to rest point guard Kyrie Irving because of a right shoulder impingement when they faced the Pacers Monday night at Barclays Center in the first of a three-game homestand. Irving previously had been listed as questionable before being downgraded, and coach Kenny Atkinson could not say directly if Irving has made any progress.
Asked if Irving’s condition could turn into something that must be managed long-term, Atkinson said, “I hope not. I will say this, from my personal opinion, is that shoulders are tough. When you have a shoulder thing, it’s just not easy. I know he’s working diligently to get back on the court. I know he wants to be out there bad. My hope is that it’s a short-term thing.”
Without Irving and Caris LeVert, who is expected to miss the next five weeks while recovering from right thumb surgery, it has created more playing time for second-year guards Dzanan Musa and Theo Pinson, both of whom spent most of last season with the Long Island Nets in the G League, to play with the second unit. Current two-way player Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot also was available.
Although Musa only is shooting 22.2 percent from three-point range, he has shown flashes of all-around ability. “I know his percentage is not great right now, but we’ve seen it all offseason and last year that he can shoot the ball,” Atkinson said. “Teams respect him. They know that’s part of his DNA that he can shoot the ball.
“I thought when we drafted him that he was much more than that. He’s one of our most-skilled players. He can pass. I think he’s desperate to land a mark. I’ve seen big, big growth with him. I just love his gumption and his will. I think his turnovers have to be controlled a little bit, but I think the more playing time he gets, the better he’s going to get.”