TORONTO (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 19 of his 29 points in the third quarter, Nic Claxton had 14 points and 12 rebounds and the Brooklyn Nets beat the undermanned Toronto Raptors 112-98 Wednesday night.
Toronto held Kevin Durant to 12 points but still lost to the Nets for the fifth time in seven games after winning 21 of the previous 25.
Durant hit his 26,074 in the third quarter. Career point and passed Kevin Garnett (26,071) for 18th place on the NBA’s all-time list.
Royce O’Neale hit a career-high five 3-pointers and had 15 points, and Ben Simmons had 14 for the Nets, who were bouncing back from Tuesday’s loss in a exhausted Philadelphia that missed Joel Embiid and James Harden.
“We’re in the business of winning,” Irving said. “We’re going to take that, especially after last night’s loss and the whole internet going into an uproar about how embarrassed we should be about what’s true. We just wanted to make sure we paid attention to details tonight. We came out and responded.”
Brooklyn has won three out of four, including two out of three, since Irving returned from a suspension for tweeting a link to an anti-Semitic film.
The Nets shot 17 for 38 from 3-point range, a season-high for 3-points made. The Raptors finished 7 to 29 from long range, earning their fewest 3-point results of the season.
Gary Trent Jr. had 19 points and Chris Boucher had 12 points and a season-high 16 rebounds for the Raptors. OG Anunoby scored 15 points and Thad Young had 12.
Toronto had 10 healthy players, with regulars Scottie Barnes (left knee) and Fred VanVleet (not ill with COVID) on the sidelines alongside All-Star Pascal Siakam (distorted right adductor muscle).
“We feel like we could have played better,” said Anunoby. “We don’t take the injuries as an excuse.”
Irving had 26 points in the second half, the half with the highest scoring by a Nets player this season. He only attempted three shots in the first half and made one.
“It doesn’t take too much,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said of Irving. “He is gifted, talented and can score anywhere. He’s got a few going his way and once that’s happened you’re good to go.”
With the Nets leading 52-51 at halftime, Irving made his first seven field goal attempts in the third game.
“That’s what we want from him,” Simmons said. “Just be yourself, have the confidence to come out and do these shots and be who he is. He’s an incredible player, an incredible teammate.”
Brooklyn took the lead 91-76.
Irving had two better halves last season. He scored 41 first-half points and finished with 60 points on March 15 in Orlando. That came a week after Irving scored 30 goals in the second half in Charlotte and finished with 50 against the Hornets.
Nets: Brooklyn recorded an assist on 12 of their 15 field goals in the first quarter. The Nets finished with 32 assists, one just below their season high. … G Seth Curry (left ankle) missed his second straight game. … F Yuta Watanabe (right hamstring) was unavailable.
Raptors: Toronto were also without F. Otto Porter Jr. (dislocated toe, left foot), G. Dalano Banton (left ankle), F. Precious Achiuwa (right ankle), F. Justin Champagnie (back) and GF Ron Harper Jr .(G-League). … Siakam missed his ninth game but could return next week. … VanVleet also missed games on November 12 and 14 due to a non-COVID illness. … Juancho Hernangomzez had 10 points and 10 rebounds. … Toronto’s 52 rebounds hit a season high.
Rapper Drake arrived at his seat in a white hooded winter jacket with two teddy bears pinned to the front.
Nets: In Indiana on Friday night.
Raptors: host Dallas on Saturday night.
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