Injury-riddled Nets, Pelicans square off in New York

Sports

The injury lists for the Brooklyn Nets and the New Orleans Pelicans are changing almost daily.

So it’s unclear exactly who will be available to play on Wednesday in New York when the teams meet for the first time this season.

James Harden returned from a two-game absence to start the Nets’ 114-112 win over the New York Knicks on Monday, only to exit after four minutes because of tightness in his hamstring.

Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said tests on the hamstring have been “clean,” but the Nets will “err on the side of caution” by holding Harden out as long as he feels discomfort.

Forward Kevin Durant returns to the lineup Wednesday for the first time since Feb. 13. The Nets were 19-4 in the 23 games he missed with a left hamstring strain.

The Nets’ Big Three of Harden, Durant and Kyrie Irving have played together just seven times since Harden was acquired from the Houston Rockets in January.

Irving scored 40 points on Monday to help Brooklyn overcome a 14-point deficit in its win against New York. The victory was the Nets’ eighth straight at home.

Jeff Green matched his season high with 23 points, making 9 of 13 free throws — including two that provided the winning points with 3.7 seconds left.

Joe Harris scored 16 points and Alize Johnson had 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

“It was a total team effort,” Irving said. “A lot of guys stepped up, especially our bench. They came in and made a difference, and when we got guys out, injury bug, we need that more than ever.”

Zion Williamson returned from a three-game absence due to a strained right thumb and had 34 points on 12-of-18 shooting in the Pelicans’ 123-107 loss at Atlanta on Tuesday. He has scored at least 20 points in 25 consecutive games.

Lonzo Ball played his second game after a seven-game absence and Steven Adams returned from a one-game absence in a 122-115 victory at Houston on Sunday.

But Brandon Ingram has missed the past four games because of a toe injury, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, who averaged 18.9 points while starting Ball’s place, is out for at least two weeks because of an ankle injury sustained versus the Rockets.

Kira Lewis Jr. has missed the past two games because of calf injury and Josh Hart will miss at least three weeks after undergoing thumb surgery.

New Orleans added some help by signing guard Isaiah Thomas, who made his debut against the Hawks. He had 10 points (on 4-of-13 shooting) in 25 minutes during his first NBA game since Feb. 3, 2020.

“I thought he played fine, certainly as well as you could expect for somebody who hasn’t played in a year,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said.

Atlanta set the record for more made 3-pointers in one quarter without missing when it sunk all 11 attempts in the third quarter. The Hawks finished 20 of 31 for the game, while the Pelicans sank 12 of 38 shots from 3-point range.

“Look at the two teams’ 3-point shooting,” Van Gundy said. “There’s the game right there.”

–Field Level Media

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