PHOENIX — 4 video games with out Kevin Durant. 4 defeats. And no finish in sight.

A nationwide tv viewers watched the Nets fall 117-112 to the Suns on the Footprint Middle, digging themselves a Grand Canyon-sized gap that proved simply too huge for Kyrie Irving to dig them out of.

“Yeah, actually unlucky, our begin. I used to be actually wanting ahead to the problem for this group to see how we responded after a loss in San Antonio,” Jacque Vaughn mentioned. “We talked about every possession having a which means and it carries worth and what you’re requested upon as a teammate to do each single possession. … We didn’t come to play at first of the sport, for positive.”

After being a late scratch Tuesday with a sore calf, Irving was practically a late-game hero Thursday with a stellar fourth quarter. He had 21 of his game-high 30 within the closing interval, when the Nets outscored Phoenix 38-23.

Kyrie Irving defends Mikal Bridges in the course of the Nets’ loss to the Suns on Jan. 19.
Getty Pictures

However that reveals simply how dangerous the Nets had been via the primary three intervals, trailing by as a lot as 24, and by 94-74 going into the fourth.

“We do wish to have a constant effort that we put forth,” Irving mentioned. “So Jacque’s proper; we put ourselves in a gap, we’re down 10, 12, we give the opposite staff confidence and really feel like they play a bit bit extra free. Once we began locking in and are available again, we will make something occur. However typically the outlet’s too huge to come back again from.”

Probably having to shake off some rust early, Irving ended the third quarter with simply 9 factors on 3-of-16 taking pictures and a team-worst minus-17 as his Nets trailed by 20. He erupted for 21 on 8-of-11 within the closing interval, however it was too late.

The Nets (27-17) fought, however too late.

“I feel only a sense of urgency,” mentioned Joe Harris, who had 16. “We had been getting our [butts] kicked, so we had been making an attempt to come back again and win the sport.

Common supervisor Sean Marks, who was readily available to observe, informed TNT that it was “about how different guys reply with out KD.” Marks additionally informed the community that he felt this time minus Durant “is a superb problem for everybody on the Nets group.” To this point, contemplate the problem unmet.

A lot has been made about the way in which the Nets capitulated final season when Durant suffered a MCL harm, going 5-16 to tumble from second within the Jap Convention all the way in which to eighth. There additionally has been a lot protestation from these Nets that they’re totally different. However they have already got fallen from second to fourth, six video games behind Boston and simply proportion factors forward of No. 5 seed Cleveland.

After briefly taking a 12-6 lead when Simmons discovered Royce O’Neale for a 3-pointer, the Nets was nonetheless clinging to a 19-18 edge after an Irving driving layup with 5:20 left within the first. It didn’t final.

Deandre Ayton dunks during the Suns' win over the Nets' on Jan. 19.
Deandre Ayton dunks in the course of the Suns’ win over the Nets’ on Jan. 19.
USA TODAY Sports activities

The Nets promptly gave up a 12-2 run, with Cam Johnson — making his return after lacking 37 consecutive video games — capping it with a 3-pointer.

It left the Nets in a 30-21 gap with 2:36 remaining within the first. They confirmed a regarding lack of battle because the nine-point deficit simply swelled to 2 dozen.

A Mikal Bridges and-one pushed the Phoenix result in 81-57 with 7:13 to play within the third. Unable to gradual Phoenix of their switching man, the Nets with a zone, and that — together with Irving — practically stole one.

Kyrie Irving shoots during the Nets' loss to the Suns on Jan. 19.
Kyrie Irving shoots in the course of the Nets’ loss to the Suns on Jan. 19.

Irving discovered Nic Claxton (20 factors, 11 boards) for a dunk to make it 103-98, and his floating financial institution shot pulled Brooklyn inside 105-100 with 3:56 remaining.

Irving’s jumper 28 seconds later had Brooklyn down simply 107-102. His step again 3 reduce it to 113-110 with 11.5 ticks left in regulation, and the Suns’ Damion Lee lacking certainly one of two free throws gave the Nets a sliver of hope.

Claxton shortly dunked and Mikal Bridges (28 factors) made simply certainly one of two once more, leaving the Nets inside 115-112. However Claxton received fouled and missed each with 6.6 seconds in regulation, and there could be no time beyond regulation.

Deandre Ayton scored 24 for the Suns.

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