Kyrie Irving's long-awaited return gave the Brooklyn Nets an instant boost on Sunday and a chance to finish off a winning four-game homestand. The Nets will try to finish off the homestand with a 3-1 mark when they host the red-hot Utah Jazz on Tuesday.
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Irving missed 26 games with a shoulder injury but returned on Sunday and scored 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting in 20 minutes to spark Brooklyn to a 108-86 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. "I'm not gonna shoot 10-for-11 every night," Irving told reporters. "I hope I can, but the reality is I just got it going, felt pretty good, attacked the rim. I'm very grateful for having the coaches and players getting me ready, playing 4-on-4, 5-on-5 and pushing me out there, allowing me to test my shoulder strength against them. It's proof that when you put in work when no one's watching, you come out and play well. It's not really a surprise for me. When I do that, I feel like the results will come." The Jazz are winners of nine straight and 14 of their last 15 and overcame a 15-point, second-half deficit in a 127-116 win over the Washington Wizards on Sunday in the opener of a three-game road trip, despite leading scorer Donovan Mitchell sitting out due to illness. "This is a tough game," Utah coach Quin Snyder told reporters after the victory. "It's your first game of an East Coast road trip. It's a matinee game. ... Donovan's one of our key guys, so there's always a little bit of an adjustment when he's out. I thought our guys did a really good job of absorbing that collectively."
TIME: 7:30 p.m. ET. TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, YES, TSN 1/4
ABOUT THE JAZZ (27-12): Mitchell wasn't at his best while scoring four points in 22 minutes against Charlotte on Friday and Utah elected to hold their leading scorer (24.4 points) out on Sunday, and the rest of the team stepped up. Jordan Clarkson scored 23 points in 34 minutes off the bench while Bojan Bogdanovic led all five starters in double figures with 31 points on 12-of-23 shooting. Bogdanovic is averaging 25.5 points on 52.2 percent shooting over the last four contests after failing to hit 50 percent of his shots in six consecutive games.
ABOUT THE NETS (18-20): Brooklyn will bring Irving along slowly but was pleased with how well he fit in on Sunday after the long layoff. "I liked that he didn't force anything, and he just played like a pro," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters. "He was just in a perfect flow, had a nice demeanor and nice rhythm about him. Normally when you come back after a long time, your rhythm is off, you're going too fast or too slow, you're not in the right tempo. He was in the right tempo, right place, and I thought defensively, competed his tail off." Spencer Dinwiddie took over the lead on offense with Irving out but slumped to seven points on 2-of-7 shooting Sunday, snapping a streak of 30 straight games scoring in double figures.
1. Jazz C Rudy Gobert is 19-of-25 from the floor during a streak of three straight double-doubles.
2. Nets C Jarrett Allen recorded a double-double in each of the last two contests.
3. Utah turned away Brooklyn 119-114 at home on Nov. 12 behind 30 points from Mitchell.
News Breaking News
Key Players to Watch
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- FingerQues Sun | questionable
Jordan suffered a dislocated right middle finger, and it is uncertain if he will return for Sunday's matchup versus the Knicks.
- ShoulderProb Sat | probable
Claxton was held out of the previous game due to a left shoulder contusion, but it is likely that he will play Saturday against the Pistons.
- HamstringProb Thurs | probable
Irving was held out of the previous game due to right hamstring tightness, but it is not expected to impede his status for Thursday's tilt versus the Lakers.
- HamstringProb Thurs | probable
Chandler was absent from the lineup during the last game with tightness in his left hamstring, but he is likely to take the court Thursday against the Lakers.
- KneeProb Mon | probable
Temple missed his third straight game with a right knee contusion, but he is expected to be ready to return against the 76ers on Monday.
- BackProb Mon | probable
Harris missed the last game with a sore lower back, but he is expected to face the 76ers on Monday.
- UndisclosedQues Mon | questionable
Kurucs left the last game to be evaluated for an undisclosed injury, and it is unclear if he will be active Monday against the 76ers.
- WristProb Sat | probable
Prince is tending to a wrist injury, but he will likely be available for Saturday's matchup versus the Bucks.
- AnkleQues Mon | questionable
Mudiay sat out the previous game due to right ankle soreness, and it is unclear if he will play Monday against the Rockets.
- AnkleProb Wed | probable
Gobert sustained a left ankle injury in the previous game but is expected to take the court against the Warriors on Wednesday.
- HamstringProb Sat | probable
Conley has been sidelined with a left hamstring strain, but is expected to make his return against the Kings on Saturday.
- IllnessProb Tues | probable
Mitchell missed the last game due to illness, but he is expected to suit up for Tuesday's matchup against the Nets.