Brooklyn’s Big Three was down to a Big One, with Kyrie Irving joining Kevin Durant on the sidelines Tuesday in Phoenix. Irving was scratched before the game against the white-hot Suns with lower-back tightness.
Nets coach Steve Nash said the issue cropped up during Monday’s win in Sacramento, when Irving was treated at halftime and played through it. Despite the star guard being unable to go a night later in Phoenix, Nash downplayed the injury.
“I’m hoping it’s very short term, day-to-day,” said Nash. “He was feeling it during the game [Monday]. He got treatment at halftime, and we knew he was feeling it. But we all hope — and I think Kyrie believes — it’s not a long-term thing. So hopefully, we can monitor this in the short term, and he’ll be back soon.
“Ky did get a little treatment. I know it was bothering him a little bit in the game. He did get some treatment at halftime, so it wasn’t something that he just woke up with [Tuesday] morning. There was some discomfort.”
Irving logged a stellar 30:44 on Monday, pouring in season-high 40 points to lift Brooklyn to a blowout win. He not only played through the sore back but showed no ill-effects from his finger injury, shooting 9 of 11 from behind the arc.
“There was a game or two where the ball was uncharacteristically coming out of his hands funny at times. But it seemed obviously the last couple of games, he’s on top of that,” Nash said. “You start to get familiar with that finger and that numbness and pain.”
Durant missed a second straight with a left hamstring strain. The Nets gave no indication whether he’d be back for Thursday’s game at the Lakers.
“I don’t have an update on that. It’s still too early, though I do think we’re optimistic it’s not a long-term thing,” Nash said. “We couldn’t put a timetable on it. We still have to monitor it. It’s sore still, so we have to see how it settles and what kind of strength he can develop in it. That’s only going to happen when it’s ready.”
The Nets started James Harden, Tyler Johnson, Bruce Brown, Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan. It was Johnson’s first start of the season.
Newcomer Andre Roberson was available Tuesday, though he hasn’t played since last postseason and may have to make up ground.
“Andre has experience as a defensive wing,” Nash said. “He’s got some length and experience and hung his hat on the defensive end. Having a piece that can go out there and slow people down and be a part of our defense is the profile that we identified in him.
“Hopefully we’ll get a chance to bring him into the mix and jell. I just shook his hand for the first time, so I haven’t even had a chance to talk to him about what we do. But we’ll get there, and see how he fits in.”
Roberson is on a prorated minimum contract. The cap hit will be $998,978 if he’s on the roster past Feb. 24, according to ESPN. The Nets’ cap hit after waiving Norvel Pelle is $217,845, and the tax hit is $244,195.
Pelle has been contacted by the Knicks.