The Brooklyn Nets marked Kyrie Irving’s return from an eight-game suspension with a 127-115 victory over Memphis on Sunday as the NBA champion Golden State Warriors finally earned their first road win of the season.
Irving, who was suspended by the Nets after his social media post linking to a movie condemned as anti-semitic sparked a furore, scored 14 points in 26 minutes on the floor.
Kevin Durant led the Nets with 26 and Ben Simmons added 22 as seven Nets players scored in double figures.
That included Japanese reserve Yuta Watanabe, who made four of the Nets’ 16 three-pointers on the way to 16 points.
“It was great to have him get some minutes out there and for us to get a win while he’s doing it,” said Nets coach Jacque Vaughn, who said he expected Irving and the team to be able to focus on basketball going forward.
“At the end of the day, now it’s about hoopin’,” Vaughn said of his message to Irving. “I used that word.
“From this day on that’s what we’re going to be about. Basketball is factual. You get the rebound, that’s a fact. You box out, that’s a fact. You make the shot, that’s a fact.
“So we’re going to make this thing factual. It’s about basketball and we’re going to live in that space.”
The row surrounding Irving, who was suspended a week after his late October post for failing to offer an apology, came the same week that Vaughn took over after Steve Nash was sacked in the wake of the Nets’ 1-5 start to the season.
They have now improved to 8-9, with former Rookie of the Year Simmons finally coming alive for the team he joined in a trade last season after his relationship with Philadelphia soured because of struggles with a back injury and mental health issues.
Simmons connected on 11 of 13 shot attempts for his first 20-point game since the 2021 playoffs for the 76ers — who will host the Nets on Tuesday.
Dillon Brooks scored 31 points for the Grizzlies, who were without dynamic star Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson.
In Houston, Warriors sharp-shooter Klay Thompson burst out of his early-season slump with a 41-point performance in Golden State’s 127-120 victory over the Rockets.
Thompson drilled 10 of the Warriors 24 three-pointers, getting off to a blistering start as he scored half of the Warriors 40 first-quarter points.
The Rockets, last in the Western Conference, battled back to take a four-point lead at halftime, but Stephen Curry scored 16 of his 33 points in the third quarter as the Warriors reasserted themselves.
The tenacious Rockets managed to edge ahead by one midway through the fourth, but Thompson’s final three-pointer and a high-arching trey from Curry put the Warriors over the line in the closing minute.
“Well, long overdue,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “but we’re happy to get the win.”
Nuggets stun Mavs
Denver’s Michael Porter hit the game-winning three-pointer with 55.2 seconds remaining in Dallas, lifting the Nuggets to a 98-97 victory over the Mavericks.
Denver reserve Bones Hyland led all scorers with a career-high 29 points as the Nuggets overcame the absence of two-time reigning Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic, who was sidelined along with Jamal Murray by Covid concerns.
The Nuggets were boosted by an incredible three-pointer from just beyond the half-court line by reserve Vlatko Cancar at the buzzer to end the first half.
In fact, the shot came after the interval, as officials decided to replay the final two seconds of the second quarter when it was determined during the break that Dallas star Luka Doncic had stepped out of bounds as he rose for what was originally scored a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer.
In Los Angeles, the Lakers were in control throughout a 123-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, despite the absence of superstar LeBron James for a fourth straight game with a groin injury.
Anthony Davis scored 30 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for the Lakers and with the game in hand sat out much of the fourth quarter.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was not on the bench, and the team said after he arrived at the arena that he was ill.