James Harden ruled out the Nets’ matchup with the Trail Blazers

The Nets literally had to work overtime to pull off a two-point victory over the Spurs Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center to end their five-game home loss streak. Then they flew to Portland for a Monday night match that would complete an extremely rare coast-to-coast back-to-back set.

Nets coach Steve Nash said everyone on the list would take the trip, and although he sometimes prefers to rest Kevin Durant and James Harden in the second game in a back-to-back, both would be available.

But just as the Big 3 were to play together for the second time in Portland, James Harden was ruled out on Monday afternoon with a hyperextended left knee.

After the Nets’ 121-119 overtime victory over Spurs, Durant was asked why he would like to play against the Trail Blazers on the opposite shore. “I want to play,” Durant said. “They pay me money to play basketball.”

Good point. James Harden played 44 minutes against Spurs, and Durant played 43. That was the start of a stretch of four games in five days and five games in seven days. And the Nets go coast-to-coast. After the Portland game, they play Wednesday in Chicago followed by home games next night against Oklahoma City and then Saturday against New Orleans.

But the good thing that helps them in that piece is that Kyrie Irving will join them in Portland and Chicago. Irving is not eligible to play games in New York City because he violates the city’s vaccine mandate. But he can play in road games and had a successful season debut last Wednesday in Indiana with a performance of 22 points in a comeback victory from a deficit of 19 points. Irving was tough on the stretch.

Asked how Irving’s return could help the Nets in Portland, Durant said: “We are definitely a better team, a far better team and he will definitely give us a boost. So I look forward to it. We have got a couple of away games and an opportunity for us to build up our chemistry. So I look forward to it. “

During the win over Spurs, Nash shook hands with his strategy for how he survived the difficult stretch with four games in five nights. He extended his rotation to 11 players by using all four rookies on the list.

Cam Thomas hit the battle-winning shot against Spurs, and Kessler Edwards, Day’Ron Sharpe and David Duke Jr. made all valuable contributions. Duke actually started his third game in a row, scoring six points. In total, the four rookies scored 30 points, including 11 by Thomas.

“I thought they all did a good job,” Nash said of the rookies. “We’re in the position where we believe in those guys, but they need time to really evolve and play. We have other guys who also deserve minutes, so we have so many guys who are at one point. “same level of skill and play. It’s a hard road to work through, but we try to give those guys a little bit of an opportunity and they did well.”

Thomas said the young guys are looking forward to getting involved during the condensed schedule next week. “It’s huge because it’s like five games in seven days and this was the first,” Thomas said after the win over Spurs. “So of course everyone will be used during this week because it’s a long week, many fights in a whole week. We have to stay ready and whoever calls, we have to make it happen.”

Center Nic Claxton, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds against Spurs, agreed. “We’ll definitely need everyone,” Claxton said. “Day’Ron came in and played some good minutes, Kess came in and it would be great to have Kyrie on this stretch of road too.”

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