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Kyrie Irving out as Nets end difficult road trip in Chicago

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Detroit Pistons v Chicago Bulls Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Simply put, this isn't a good basketball team right now. The Brooklyn Nets are out of the mountain time zone after their loss against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night. The game followed a familiar script and had to feel dispiriting for fans and players alike. Fortunately for them, this is the last night of the road trip and the team will return to the comfy confines of Barclays Center afterwards.

The opponent tonight will be the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are still rebuilding, but things do appear to be getting a bit better. They were in Milwaukee on Thursday night and lost against the Bucks.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV (NBATV for the out of towners). WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 6 PM.

Injuries

Caris Levert underwent thumb surgery and will be out for a while. Kyrie Irving is out with his right shoulder issue. You can treat shoulder impingement with oral anti-inflammatories and physical therapy but ultimately it requires rest. Nets play again Monday vs. the Pacers

Cristiano Felicio broke his right wrist and will be out for at least the next month. Otto Porter Jr. missed Thursday’s game with a foot contusion. He won’t play Saturday night either.

The game

We’ve spent the past two years saying the Nets are the model of what bad teams should aspire to be. Over at Blog a Bull, Vijay Vemu makes a solid comparison between what the Nets did and what the Bulls are trying to do:

Then when you look at both franchises in terms of roster construction, the Nets are what the Bulls should aspire to be. Brooklyn was also like Chicago a few years back as one of the worst teams in the league. They were in an even worse starting position, with next to zero draft picks after a series of disastrous win-now trades. Yet through shrewd moves the Nets found themselves as a playoff team last season, which was then parlayed into two superstar signings in Kyrie and Durant. They first developed solid talent in their own organization, but the Nets realized you need superstars to win in this league and they spent the last couple of years setting themselves up for it.

To do this for themselves, the Bulls need to continue to find players who can be core pieces for a contender, yet don’t want to be too confident of their current squad. The Nets showed they weren’t afraid to deal their own pieces for the future, like with their lone all-star last season D’Angelo Russell.

Only thing that complicates that is Bulls management is cheap as hell. They’re gonna have to pay up if they want to get the team back to contention.

So I’m not quite sure how good Zach Lavine actually is. He’s a great dunker, but hasn't been finishing well at the rim this year. He can set his teammates up for decent looks, but his turnover rate is higher than normal. He has the tools and appeal needed for stardom, but it seems like there's something missing. He's still incredibly young so there's plenty of time for him and the Bulls.

It's more than likely due to the shoulder, but it's been a rough week for Kyrie Irving. His shot hasn't been there at all and he has uncharacteristically gone cold in crunchtime. Every player has stretches like this throughout the year, and the Nets hope that Irving can shoot his way out of it soon.

Player to watch: Wendell Carter

The former Blue Devil has a lot to catch up on after missing the back half of his rookie season due to a thumb injury. He's been off to a nice start this year, averaging around 13 points and almost ten rebounds a night while shooting 60 percent from the floor. Almost all of his offense comes close to the basket and he's a beast on the boards, so look for him to have a big evening.

During the preseason, he sat down for a good interview on "The Right Time" with Bomani Jones.

Jarrett Allen had himself a nice showing against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets. He had some highlight plays, put a double together, and most importantly, didn't commit a single foul in close to 30 minutes of play. The more Allen is on the court, the better he is and the more he develops.

From the Vault

Was in a Monica mood as I wrote this, so here

More reading: Blog a Bull