Kyrie Irving can afford to take as much time as he needs to rest his injured shoulder with the Brooklyn Nets' backcourt thriving in his absence. The Nets will try to improve to 8-3 without Irving when they visit the Charlotte Hornets on Friday.
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Irving is getting closer to a return but did not make the trip with the team and sat out his 10th straight game on Wednesday while the starting backcourt combo of Spencer Dinwiddie and Garrett Temple combined for 51 points on 20-of-38 shooting. "It's a real bonus when he is making shots," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters of Temple, who led the way with 27 points on Wednesday. "He hit some timely ones tonight when we were struggling. He is playing great basketball for us." The Hornets are getting strong play in the backcourt as well and watched Devonte' Graham tie a franchise record with 10 3-pointers in Wednesday's 106-91 win over the Golden State Warriors. "I wish I would have beat it," Graham told reporters after tying the mark set by Kemba Walker. "I didn't know. Maybe if somebody had told me I would have started jacking up more threes. That's my guy though, and it's great to be in that category. I've always had confidence in myself. It just keeps growing when I have games like this."
TV: 7 p.m. ET, YES (Brooklyn), FS Southeast (Charlotte)
ABOUT THE NETS (11-10): Brooklyn's ability to thrive without Irving is a tribute to the culture that Atkinson has built around the club, according to small forward Joe Harris. "We have a lot of capable players in this locker room that are able to step up," Harris told reporters, according to Newsday. "We're 21 games into the season, and you start to have that continuity, that chemistry. It's unfortunate that Kyrie and Caris (LeVert) are not playing with us, but they would be jelling the same way. It's just a matter of time of guys playing together and getting to understand each other, getting to understand Kenny and his philosophy." Dinwiddie is leading the way and is averaging 24.9 points in 10 games since replacing Irving in the starting lineup.
ABOUT THE HORNETS (9-14): Charlotte dropped seven of nine before knocking off the Warriors on Wednesday and feels like it took a step forward with the win. "I thought that this was the closest completion of a 48-minute game where we played the right way, played hard, executed and maintained that for an entire 48 minutes," Hornets coach James Borrego told reporters. "I think it just comes with time. It's something we're learning and we're going through, but we can't be satisfied with this. This has to continue and that starts on Friday night." Graham finished with 33 points (10-of-16 from 3-point range), nine assists and seven rebounds in the win.
1. Hornets PG Terry Rozier went 5-of-14 from 3-point range on Wednesday, snapping a string of six straight games shooting 50 percent or better from beyond the arc.
2. Nets C Jarrett Allen recorded a double-double in five of the last six games.
3. Brooklyn earned a 101-91 home win over Charlotte on Nov. 20 behind 22 points and 17 rebounds from Allen.
News Breaking News
Key Players to Watch
- ShoulderQues Sat | questionable
Claxton was held out of the previous game due to a left shoulder contusion, and it has yet to be determined if he will play Saturday against the Pistons.
- FingerQues Sat | questionable
Jordan suffered a dislocated right middle finger, and it is undetermined if he will return for Saturday's matchup versus 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.