Zach LaVine scored 20 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 108-99 victory over Brooklyn on Tuesday night in the Nets’ first game after a coaching change.
The Nets announced Steve Nash was out earlier in the day, then fell to 2-6 with interim head coach Jacque Vaughn in charge.
Kevin Durant had 32 points and nine rebounds for the Nets, but Kyrie Irving managed only four points on 2-for-12 shooting. He missed all six three-point attempts.
DeMar DeRozan added 20 points and Ayo Dosunmu had 17 for the Bulls, who outscored the Nets 31-19 in the final quarter. Royce O’Neale matched his career high with 20 points and Nic Claxton had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who played without Ben Simmons for a second straight night because of a sore left knee.
Irving did not speak to reporters after the game again on Tuesday while the Nets decide how best to respond to the fallout from the star guard posting a link to an antisemitic film on social media.
Irving defended himself and his right to post whatever he believes after the Nets’ game on Saturday, and general manager Sean Marks said the team didn’t want to cause additional “fuss” by Irving speaking again after Tuesday’s game.
“I think everybody knows he’s going to have to answer these questions at some point and he hasn’t sort of shied away in the past,” Marks said. “But I think the last postgame meeting didn’t go well and we’re not trying to cover it up, I think this is something that needs to be addressed, but let’s address it in the right form and fashion.”
Marks said the controversy surrounding Irving wasn’t the catalyst for the team moving on from Nash. But it’s another headache for a team that is struggling on the court and alienating fans off it. Some wore “Fight Antisemitism” shirts while sitting courtside in the Nets’ victory over Indiana on Monday.
“Look, it’s understandable. I’m completely empathetic to what’s going on here,” Marks said. “I’m certainly not proud of the situation we find ourselves in, you know?” Irving, who deleted the Twitter post on Sunday, did not speak to the media after the game Monday.
Marks said the organization is having discussions with the Anti-Defamation League for advice on the best course of action with Irving. Irving will continue playing in the meantime, but not speak for at least one more game.
“At some point he will come up here and do media again, but I think at this point we don’t want to cause more fuss right now, more interaction with people,” Marks said. “Let’s let him simmer down and let’s ... I guess let’s let cooler minds prevail. We need to go out and educate ourselves, educate the whole group and get some direction, seek from the experts, and one of them is certainly the ADL.”
On TNT’s Inside the NBA on Tuesday night, Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley both attacked Irving’s recent conduct.
“I can’t believe we ain’t talking about basketball – we talking about this idiot,” said Barkley. “When you’re somebody as great at basketball as him, people are going to listen to what you say. I blame the NBA, he should have been suspended.”
“When you’re somebody as great at basketball as him, people are going to listen to what you say. I blame the NBA, he should have been suspended.”
O’Neal added: It hurts me that we have to sit up here and talk about stuff that divides us. We have to sit up here and answer for what this idiot has done. I stand for equality of all people.”
Elsewhere on Tuesday night, Jimmy Butler scored five straight points late to give Miami the lead, Max Strus led all scorers with 24 and the Heat overcame a triple-double from Stephen Curry to beat Golden State.
Butler scored 23 points, including a three-point play with 1:48 left that put the Heat ahead. Bam Adebayo added 19, Duncan Robinson had 17 and Kyle Lowry scored 13 for Miami, which won on coach Erik Spoelstra’s 52nd birthday. Curry had 23 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists for the Warriors, who dropped their third straight and dropped to 3-5 0-4 on the road. Andrew Wiggins added 21 points and Klay Thompson scored 19.
It was the 10th regular season triple-double for Curry. But it wasn’t enough, and a call that went Miami’s way denied him a chance to tie the game with 1:39 left. Curry was hit on the hand by Butler as he tried a three-pointer, with the Warriors down three. A foul was called, but overturned on review.