Nic Claxton Credit: Bill Moore photo

Nets forward Kevin Durant spoke with the media on Tuesday regarding the status of his sprained right MCL. He has missed the last six games heading into tonight, when the Nets will face the 76ers in Philadelphia. 

Durant sprained his MCL for the second straight season on January 8, playing against the Miami Heat on the road. The 34-year-old 12-time NBA All-Star, who is third overall this season in the All-Star voting behind LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, said the responsibility for the injuries is squarely on him. 

“I’ve been through that (MCL sprain) three times and pretty much every time, I was in no man’s land, not guarding my man or not even in help position,” said Durant. “I attribute all of that to basically not being locked in on that moment and somebody used the space that they felt like they had and (I) just fell into that space. I knew exactly what happened as soon as I did it, so I was just thinking about the recovery after that.”

It shows leadership that Durant is willing to blame himself. But injuries sometimes are unavoidable. 

The Nets released a statement to give an update on his progress. “Kevin Durant’s right MCL sprain was reevaluated yesterday by Dr. Riley Williams III at the Hospital for Special Surgery,” it explained. “Dr. Williams is very pleased with Durant’s recovery thus far, as he is progressing well and as expected. Durant will continue to strengthen his knee and begin running and on-court basketball activities this week. He is scheduled to be reassessed in another two weeks.”

Until Durant is healthy enough to hit the court, the rest of the team will have to step up. They were 29-17 and No. 4 in the Eastern Conference before playing the 76ers. The Nets were behind the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics (35-14 as of last night), the No. 2 seed Sixers (30-16) and the No. 3 seed Milwaukee Bucks (30-17). 

The Nets lost four in a row after Durant went out, but then defeated the Utah Jazz 117-106 last Friday and the Golden State Warriors 120-116 last Sunday, both on the road. 

Kyrie Irving is carrying the offense. He was spectacular in scoring 48 against the Jazz and dropped 38 on the Warriors to lead the Nets back from a double-digit fourth quarter hole. 

Facing Utah, Irving hit eight three-pointers, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out six assists in 39 minutes. 

“He’s just in a different world,” said Nets center Nic Claxton, who continues to develop into one of the league’s most productive centers. Claxton entered last night averaging 12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds on 73.3% field goal shooting. He scored 20 points against the Jazz, then had a huge performance, posting 24 points with 15 rebounds two nights later—both career highs—against the defending NBA champion Warriors. 

“He’s locked in,” said Claxton of Irving. “He’s in a different type of zone, and he makes those big shots time and time again.”

The Nets will host the Detroit Pistons tonight and the Knicks on Sunday at the Barclays Center before LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers come to Brooklyn on Monday.

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