Kyrie Irving returns to help Nets beat Pacers 129-121

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP)Kyrie Irving scored 22 points and sparked Brooklyn to a big rally in the second half of his season debut, Kevin Durant had 39 and the Nets beat the Indiana Pacers 129-121 on Wednesday night.

Irving is ineligible to play home games because he is not vaccinated as mandated in New York City, and the Nets had decided against allowing him to just play road games for most of the season.

But they changed their mind last month and were glad they did Wednesday, when Irving helped them charge back from a 19-point deficit. The point guard played 32 minutes as Brooklyn snapped a three-game losing streak.

Domantas Sabonis had 32 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for the Pacers, who have lost in six in a row. Lance Stephenson, who had two previous stints with the Pacers, scored 30 in his first home game with the Pacers after signing a 10-day contract.

Stephenson delighted the home crowd by scoring the final 20 points for the Pacers in the first quarter as Indiana took a 37-32 lead. He hit 8 of 9 shots, 4 of 5 3-pointers in that six-plus minute stretch.

MAVERICKS 99, WARRIORS 82

DALLAS (AP) – Luka Doncic scored 26 points and Dallas celebrated before a ceremony to retire Dirk Nowitzki’s number by beating cold-shooting Stephen Curry and Golden State.

The Mavericks knew the night belonged to their franchise icon, and that Nowitzki’s No. 41 wasn’t going to the rafters until after they played the team with the NBA’s best record coming in.

Dallas responded with its first four-game winning streak of the season in Doncic’s third game back since a career-long, 10-game absence caused by left ankle and knee issues and a positive COVID-19 test. The only concern for the Mavericks was Doncic limping off the floor in the final two minutes and not returning.

Curry was coming off his worst shooting night of the season and wasn’t much better, going 5 of 24, including 1 of 9 from 3-point range, to finish with 14 points.

Andrew Wiggins scored 17 points for Golden State. At 29-8, the Warriors dropped into a tie with the Phoenix Suns for the best record in the NBA.

HORNETS 140, PISTONS 111

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a career-high nine of Charlotte’s franchise-record 24 3-pointers and the Hornets routed Detroit.

Oubre had eight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, tying an NBA record set by Milwaukee’s Michael Redd in 2002. Oubre was 8 of 9 on 3s in the fourth quarter before being subbed out with 4:08 left and the Hornets leading by 35.

Golden State’s Klay Thompson holds the league record for 3-pointers in a quarter with nine, that coming in the third quarter of a game in 2015.

Oubre was 9 of 14 from 3-point range and the Hornets shot 57.1% at 24 of 42.

Gordon Hayward and Miles Bridges each had 19 points to help the Hornets beat the Pistons for the 14th straight time. Trey Lyles had 17 points for Detroit.

SPURS 99, CELTICS 97

BOSTON (AP) – Gregg Popovich became the first to coach 2,000 NBA games with the same team, and Dejounte Murray scored 22 points to lead San Antonio past Boston.

Devin Vassell and Derrick White each had 17 points to help the Spurs snap a four-game losing streak.

Jaylen Brown led Boston with 30 points after scoring a career-high 50 in a victory over Orlando in the Celtics’ last game, but had a driving layup roll off the rim just before the buzzer sounded.

JAZZ 115, NUGGETS 109

DENVER (AP) – Bojan Bogdanovic scored a season-high 36 points and Utah beat Denver to stretch its road winning streak to 10 games.

Rudy Gay had 18 points and Donovan Mitchell added 17 for the Jazz.

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic had 26 points, 21 rebounds and 11 assists for his 64th career triple-double. Monte Morris and Will Barton added 20 points apiece.

76ERS 116, MAGIC 106

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Joel Embiid scored 31 points, Tobias Harris added 22 and Philadelphia beat Orlando.

The 76ers, who notched their NBA-best 14th road victory of the season, tied a season high with a fifth straight win overall. They beat Orlando for the second time this season and 10th straight overall.

Seth Curry added 20 points, a season-high 12 assists and seven rebounds, while Furkan Korkmaz scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half.

Cole Anthony led Orlando with 26 points.

RAPTORS 117, BUCKS 111

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Pascal Siakam scored 33 points, OG Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. had 22 apiece and Toronto beat short-handed Milwaukee.

Fred VanVleet added 19 points for the Raptors. They improved to 18-17 and overcame Milwaukee’s hot-shooting first half and late rally.

Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 25 points.

The defending NBA champs were without coach Mike Budenholzer after he entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Milwaukee played without NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sat out due to an illness unrelated to COVID-19. Grayson Allen, George Hill and Pat Connaughton also entered protocols on Wednesday.

ROCKETS 114, WIZARDS 111

WASHINGTON (AP) – Kevin Porter Jr. hit a 3-pointer from the right wing with 0.4 seconds left to lift Houston past Washington.

Porter and Christian Wood returned from one-game suspensions for conduct detrimental to the team. Wood added 22 points and 11 rebounds to help the Rockets snap an eight-game losing streak.

Jalen Green also scored 22 points and Eric Gordon had 19 for Houston.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 27 points. He fouled out with 9:10 to play.

HEAT 115, TRAIL BLAZERS 109

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Max Strus had 25 points and Miami beat Portland to snap a two-game losing streak.

Heat star Jimmy Butler sat out after sprained an ankle Monday night in a loss at Golden State. Miami also overcame the first-half ejection of Kyle Lowry, which left the already short-handed Heat with nine players for the rest of the game.

The teams tussled in the final minute after an altercation between Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic and Miami’s Tyler Herro. Both were ejected. Herro finished with 16 point.

Anfernee Simons led Portland with 28 points. Norman Powell added 26.

TIMBERWOLVES 98, THUNDER 90

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Karl-Anthony Towns had 17 points and 16 rebounds, while D’Angelo Russell struggled on 3-of-12 shooting in their return to the lineup for Minnesota in a victory over Oklahoma City.

Anthony Edwards scored 22 points for Minnesota, which was finally at full strength for the first time since Edwards and Taurean Prince went into the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Dec. 17. Towns had missed six games and Russell sat out five.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 19 points in his return for Oklahoma City after missing a game in the protocols. Josh Giddey, who became the youngest player in NBA history with a triple-double in the Thunder’s last game, had 14 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.

HAWKS 108, KINGS 102

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Kevin Huerter scored five of his 25 points in the final 38 seconds and short-handed Atlanta held off Sacramento.

Huerter added 11 rebounds, helping the Hawks win for only the third time in nine games. Hawks star Trae Young sat out with a lower back bruise two days after scoring a career-high 56 points in a loss at Portland.

De’Aaron Fox had 30 points and six assists for Sacramento.

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