NEW YORK (AP)Kyrie Irving made his first seven shots, sparked a big bench celebration with a one-handed follow slam after he finally missed and scored 27 points as the Brooklyn Nets beat the San Antonio Spurs 139-103 on Monday night for their 12th straight victory.
Kevin Durant added 25 points and 11 assists for the Nets (25-12), who have ridden the longest winning streak in the NBA this season to within a game of Boston for the best record in the league. Brooklyn has won 16 of its last 17 games.
”I don’t think we really pay attention too much to the streak, we just really want to play well for one another,” Irving said.
Irving shot 11 for 14, Durant was 10 for 14 and neither played in the fourth quarter for the Nets, who are 23-7 under Jacque Vaughn. T.J. Warren finished with 18 points and Brooklyn shot 62% from the field.
The Nets never trailed for the second straight game in an easy start to the new year after going 12-1 in December. They are two wins shy of matching the franchise’s longest winning streak, having won 14 in a row twice while based in New Jersey.
”It just felt easy,” said Ben Simmons, who had nine assists and six rebounds.
Keldon Johnson scored 22 points for the Spurs.
”They were rolling from the jump all the way to the end of the game,” Johnson said.
Irving was 6 for 6 in the first quarter, with three 3-pointers, for 15 points and the Nets shot 64% in opening a 37-25 lead.
He finally missed on a 3-pointer in front of the Brooklyn bench but had teammates rushing off the sideline moments later screaming and celebrating when he streaked into the lane after Yuta Watanabe’s missed jumper and slammed it down for a 46-27 lead.
Irving said it had been a struggle to regain strength after spraining his ankle in the 2021 playoffs. He joked that the reaction from his teammates was due to surprise over his leaping abilities.
”I’m like this close to getting tired of people downplaying my athleticism at times in that locker room,” he said, holding his fingers close together.
Brooklyn led 74-47 at halftime and surpassed 100 points in three quarters for the second time this season, both in the last six games.
Devin Vassell scored 14 points for the Spurs.
Spurs: Coach Gregg Popovich said he walked about 80 blocks in New York on Monday, eating Italian, Turkish and Lebanese food. Popovich noted that he’ll be able to fit in plenty more on this trip, with the Spurs off Tuesday before facing the Knicks on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, near their team hotel. The Spurs were then planning a team meal after Monday’s game. … The Spurs have lost six straight to the Nets.
Nets: The Nets were without Royce O’Neale and Markieff Morris because of illnesses not related to COVID-19. … Joe Harris scored eight points after missing four games due to left knee soreness. … The Nets congratulated Durant during the game for recently moving into 15th place on the NBA’s career scoring list. He passed Tim Duncan, the Spurs’ five-time champion. Soccer starts Kylian Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi were at the game, with Mbappe getting a thunderous ovation when shown after the third quarter.
Spurs: At New York on Wednesday.
Nets: At Chicago on Wednesday.
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