Ben Simmons Credit: Bill Moore

Unlike some of the league’s other top teams, the Brooklyn Nets can’t afford to sit out their best players to rest in what is commonly known as load management. With Kevin Durant still sidelined after spraining the MCL in his right knee on January 8, it’s all hands on deck for now.

The Nets greatly benefited from load management on Monday night, when the Los Angeles Lakers sat their two All-Stars, Lebron James and Anthony Davis. James was dealing with left ankle soreness and Davis a right foot stress injury. It lightened the Nets’ burden of having to face two of the NBA’s most dominant players. With the Knicks on their schedule Tuesday, the Lakers gave James and Davis an extra day to get ready to play in Madison Square Garden after a tough 125–121 overtime loss to the Celtics in Boston on Saturday.

The Nets took advantage of the gift and came away with a 121–104 win at Barclay Center, their fourth victory in six games. Not only did the Lakers lose, but so did the 17,000 plus fans who hoped to see James, one of the greatest players in the history of basketball, and Davis, a four-time All-NBA First Team selection. The victory improved the Nets to 4–6 since Durant was injured before they went up against the Celtics on the road last night (Wednesday).

There is no specific timetable for his return, but both Durant and the team are hopeful he’ll be back before the February 17 All-Star break. Reserve guards Patty Mills and Cam Thomas came off the bench versus the Lakers to make up for the 29.7 points per game Durant is averaging this season, each dropping 21 points. The offense continues to be led by Kyrie Irving, who scored a team high 26 and was 27.3, 11th in the league heading into last night’s game.

Irving credited Mills and Thomas for “the hard work they’ve put in.” The veteran Mills and 21-year-old Thomas, who was drafted by the Nets in the first round (No. 27) in 2021, have been part of head coach Jacque Vaughn’s mix of players he’s had to call to support Irving while waiting for Durant. “It makes my job a lot easier,” said Irving of their contributions.

The Nets have a five-game homestand starting Saturday, hosting the Washington Wizards. The Los Angeles Clippers will be in Brooklyn on Monday, followed by the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, the Chicago Bulls next Thursday and the Philadelphia 76ers on February 11. 

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