MEMPHIS, Tennessee – The news of Kyrie Irving won the day. But the Nets lost the night, 132-120 to the Grizzlies in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,794 at the FedExForum.
Hours after it was announced that Irving would soon be allowed to play home games at the Barclays Center, he had 43 points while Kevin Durant added 35 with 11 rebounds and eight assists. But it still wasn’t enough to get past their seedy defenses against the Grizzlies.
The Nets led 107-105 on an Irving bucket but allowed an 18-2 run to lose control and the game.
Brooklyn (38-35) is stuck in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and stuck in the play-in tournament. The Nets fell 2 ½ games behind Toronto in seventh place and 3 ½ behind Cleveland for sixth and final guaranteed playoff spot.
The Grizzlies were without Ja Morant, the electrifying All-Star Guardian missing a second straight game with a sore right knee. But Memphis improved to 15-2 without their franchise player, winning on physicality, athleticism and attitude. All were on display, along with 23 points from Desmond Bane.
The Nets had won six of their last seven, the only hiccup being last Wednesday’s two-point heartbreaker after squandering a 14-point lead against Dallas. This time they dug a huge hole and tried to climb out, narrowly failing.
Trailing 37:32 after Durant’s free throw and with 31.3 seconds left in the first quarter, they fell 10 behind in the second quarter through Brandon Clarke’s tip-in.
A 3-pointer from Bane left the Nets 50-36, leaving 9:15 in the half, and the deficit swelled to 18 midway through the second quarter.
The Nets were 63-45 behind a traveling Dillon Brooks floater and were physically shoved around.
It was 76-62 at the break before the Nets started climbing back in.
Brooklyn beat the Grizzlies 42-27 in the third quarter. Durant (14) and Irving (11) combined for 25 points during that period, with Irving finding Bruce Brown for a layup to give the Nets a 104-103 lead with 2.4 seconds remaining.
An Irving 3-pointer 31 seconds into the fourth quarter gave the Nets a 107-105 lead. But it was the last lead they would have.
A tip-in from Clarke tied it up and Bane found De’Anthony Melton (team high at 23) for a 3-pointer that untied it.
Bane’s consecutive 3-pointers gave Memphis a 5-20 lead 123-109, and the Nets were never challenged after that.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/23/irving-durants-huge-nights-not-enough-in-nets-loss-to-grizzlies/ Irving, Durant’s big nights aren’t enough to lose Nets to Grizzlies