Irving, Doncic power Mavericks past Embiid-less 76ers
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kyrie Irving returned from a six-game absence because of a sprained thumb and led Dallas to a needed win. It also served as a warmup for what was ahead — a return to Brooklyn, where injuries and controversies led to a tumultuous tenure with the Nets.
Up next, Tuesday at Brooklyn.
Irving was dealt to Dallas about a year ago in a move that ended the ill-fated attempt by Brooklyn to team him with James Harden and Kevin Durant. Durant, Irving and Harden played just 16 games together, winning one playoff series.
Irving refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine — a decision that forced him to sit out most home games under a New York City mandate — and infamously tweeted a link to an anti-Semitic film. He played only 143 regular-season games in 3 1/2 seasons with the Nets.
“I don't know if it's just a fan thing or media thing, asking us how we feel about going back to our former teams,” Irving said. “We're one big conglomerate. It's one league. Obviously, there's history there with certain teams. There's a competitive edge that you have going into these games. It's not uncommon. It's been happening for years in the league, guys play their other teams.”
Doncic and Irving have both missed games with injuries this season for Dallas, which entered eighth in the Western Conference and surely needs the duo to stay in the lineup to have any shot at a deep playoff run. Irving and Doncic played together for just the 23rd time in the Mavericks' 50 games.
Irving got to sit out most of the fourth quarter after the Mavericks scored on 10 straight possessions in the period. Irving had time to reflect on what his Brooklyn return might — or might not — mean to him.
“Excitement, because I get to play back in Barclays (Center),” Irving said. “Outside of that, it's nothing deeper to get into.”
Josh Green scored 20 points for the Mavericks.
The Sixers know the value of having an MVP in the lineup. They dropped to 4-11 this season without two-time scoring champion Joel Embiid, who's set for surgery this week to address an injury to the lateral meniscus in his left knee.
Philly had little hope of maintaining that advantage. Irving made 5 of 6 shots in the third and scored 11 points. Doncic hit a go-ahead 3-pointer for a 72-70 lead, and Irving hit a pair of running jumpers that helped Dallas pull away and snap a two-game losing streak.
The Mavericks blew the game open the fourth and led by 20. They finished 17 of 43 from 3-point range.
Oubre scored 19 points, Harris had 17 and Maxey 15 for the Sixers, who scored just 17 points in the third quarter.
“I don't want to make excuses,” 76ers coach Nick Nurse said. “Some of those guys are out there not even close to 100 percent and they're trying their best and they're just running out of gas because of so much illness stuff they're coming out of.”
Mavericks: At Brooklyn on Tuesday.
76ers: Host Golden State on Wednesday.
AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba