Durant’s Exit Highlights Frustrating Night as Nets Fall to Raptors


Final: 02/05/2021

L 117 123

The Nets’ Friday night was, in a word — unpredictable. 

After Kevin Durant played just 19 minutes and was ruled out of the game in the third quarter due to health and safety protocols, Brooklyn went on to fall 123-117 to the Raptors. The Nets shot 48.8% as the loss drops them to 14-10 on the year. 

The Nets led by as many as six points and held a two-point lead with under four minutes left, but Toronto went on to out-score Brooklyn 17-9 the rest of the way. A costly offensive rebound resulted in a three-pointer for the Raptors that all-but-sealed the deal as the Nets struggled to get defensive stops. 

Brooklyn lost Durant not once, but twice on Friday. First, Durant was taken out of warmups due to contact tracing. Once cleared, he later entered the game with about four minutes remaining in the first quarter, coming off the bench for the first time in his career. 

Fast forward to the third quarter, and Durant was called for his fifth foul of the night while reaching in on a fastbreak. Steve Nash opted to challenge the call, but before it could be overturned (which it was), Durant was told he had to miss the rest of the game due to health and safety protocols.

His reaction says it all. Oh, and his “Free me” tweet

That was the headline of a Nets game that looked similar to others — suffering an early deficit to turnovers and poor defense and building their way back with their offense. Brooklyn fell in a 17-point hole in the first quarter as Toronto hammered the paint, scoring 24 of their first-quarter points inside and out-scoring the Nets 64-40 in the paint on the night. 

Durant’s initial return was a boost for the Nets and was a plus-10 on the night, while Brooklyn’s bench added 43 points. The Nets fed off their three-pointers as they eventually took their first lead in the third quarter, shooting 17-of-42 from distance on the night.

Toronto’s defense was front and center as James Harden and Kyrie Irving each failed to break 20 points, though seven Nets scored in double-digits (Durant exited with eight points). Shamet particularly had a bit of a breakout game with 12 points off the bench on 4-of-9 shooting from three.

Brooklyn ended up out-rebounding the Raptors 51-47 but was continuously hurt by the team’s interior defense, and Toronto’s 12 offensive rebounds did not help. Turnovers were again an issue as Toronto scored 26 points off 18 Nets giveaways and had 17 more total shot attempts. 

Kyle Lowry had the hot hand for the Raptors as he totaled 30 points on 67% shooting. Pascal Siakam did most of his damage in the second half with 33 points and 11 rebounds. 

Brooklyn will reportedly be without Durant as they hit the road to face the 76ers on Saturday night. According to the NBA, Durant came in contact with someone Friday afternoon who previously had an inconclusive test result but later tested positive for COVID-19. 

If he is deemed a close contact, Durant could potentially miss even more time. Remember, Durant missed four games earlier this season due to a close contact testing positive. 

A lot of unknowns for the Nets going forward. No matter what, a meeting with a talented Philly team awaits. 

Joe Harris


The stats: 19 PTS, 6-9 FG, 5-8 3PT, 2-2 FT, 5 REB, 2 AST, 37 MIN

Joe had a meager first half and still finished the night as the Nets’ leading scorer.

Joe was guarded closely all night by Lowry, who did a good job on him. Still, Joe was able to get better looks in the second half and remained active on the boards, even adding two offensive rebounds.

It is not often that Brooklyn’s leading scorer will have under 20 points. Joe’s three-pointers gave the Nets some hope down the stretch, but the Raptors had more answers. 

James Harden


The stats: 17 PTS, 4-8 FG, 2-5 3PT, 7-9 FT, 7 REB, 12 AST, 2 STL, 3 TO, 40 MIN

Another near-triple-double for James Harden, but the shot attempts were not there.

Harden had made good progress recently with balancing being more aggressive offensively and facilitating but took a bit of a step back on Friday. His impact was represented in his 12 assists, but the Nets needed a hot hand with Durant off the court.

Harden got his looks at the free-throw line, but the Nets needed an offensive takeover — and of course defensive stops. He said after the game that the situation with Durant was “frustrating.” Perhaps it showed in his performance.

Kyrie Irving


The stats: 15 PTS, 6-12 FG, 0-4 3PT, 3-4 FT, 5 REB, 5 AST, 1 BLK, 7 TO, 35 MIN

It was not Kyrie’s best night.

He had his bursts, but Kyrie could not find a rhythm between his seven turnovers and poor shooting from distance. He had a better first half but scored just four points in the second half. 

The Nets needed someone to step up with KD out in the second half. Toronto’s defense proved too much.

Jeff Green


The stats: 15 PTS, 4-12 FG, 3-8 3PT, 4-6 FT, 3 REB, 1 BLK, 30 MIN

Jeff Green got his three-pointers in but had a tough time hitting from the field otherwise. He came off the bench on Friday with DeAndre Jordan getting the starting nod.

The Nets often play their best with Uncle Jeff on the court, but it just was not his shooting night. He managed to make up for some of it at the free-throw line but the momentum was not there for the Nets on a frustrating night.

Bruce Brown


The stats: 13 PTS, 5-9 FG, 0-1 3PT, 3-4 FT, 6 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 25 MIN

Bruce Brown got the unexpected call to start after Durant was suddenly pulled from warmups. He had a slow first half but played an important role on defense and the boards.

Every offensive rebound is valuable, and Brown had two of them. Still, the Nets could not provide enough protection inside.