Irving-less Nets look to stay hot vs. Nuggets

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Kyrie Irving’s last game occurred Nov. 14 in Denver when he labored through the effects of an impinged right shoulder. Since then the Brooklyn Nets are getting good looks at their roster depth while also getting production from Spencer Dinwiddie most nights.

Irving will be watching from the bench again Sunday afternoon when the Nets host the Denver Nuggets and hope to incorporate both elements.

The Nets are 8-3 since Irving scored 17 points on 8-of-20 shooting in 35 minutes of a 101-93 nationally televised loss to the Nuggets. While Irving is showing incremental progress, he has yet to participate in any contact drills and the Nets have not established a timetable for his return.

Dinwiddie is averaging 23.8 points and 7.5 assists since Irving’s last game while Joe Harris is averaging 16.7 points on 48.9 percent shooting and 44.3 percent on 3-pointers in that span. Both players helped the Nets record another win Friday when Harris scored 22 on a season-high six 3-pointers and Dinwiddie added 13 and a season-best 12 assists in a 111-104 win at Charlotte.

Perhaps equally as impressive for the Nets is nobody played more than 33 minutes, six players scored in double-figures and they handed out a season-high 35 assists. Those results came on a night when the second unit combined for 38 points and keyed a 14-0 run to start the second half Friday.

“Their chemistry is really good right now,” coach Kenny Atkinson said of his team. “They are talking about coverages and encouraging each other. Even in the first half when it didn’t go so well they were together. Sometimes coaches will get negative. (But) they are pushing each other and their chemistry is great right now.”

Denver is returning to the New York area after absorbing a 108-95 loss in Boston Friday night. Friday’s game occurred 24 hours after the Nuggets hit 21 3-pointers and coasted to a 129-92 rout of the Knicks that wound up being David Fizdale’s last game coaching New York.

A night later, Denver could not muster the same offense and lost for the third time in four games since winning six straight from Nov. 14-26.

“We’re not playing well at all,” Denver guard Jamal Murray said. “We’re playing really bad, and we are second in the West. So, imagine when we start playing well.”

Murray was 5-for-14 Friday when the Nuggets shot 41.5 percent and missed 25 of 30 3-pointers. Murray enters Sunday as a career 35.9 percent 3-point shooter but is 2-of-15 from 3-point range in his last five games since Nov. 24.

While the Nuggets are hoping to execute better offensively, they also are hoping to get another big game from Nikola Jokic. Jokic is coming off his first 30-point game of the season but was shooting 38.3 percent in his previous five games before Friday and is averaging 15.7 points on a career-worst 46.4 percent shooting.

“That was the only positive I took from the game tonight that he got going,” Denver forward Will Barton said of Jokic. “We got our (butt) kicked tonight. I was horrible on defense. We were horrible on defense. Only thing you can take from it is our big fella got back on track, so let’s feed off that.”

–Field Level Media

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