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Kyrie Irving sprains right knee as Nets collapse late to Wizards, 113-107

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Washington Wizards Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Even with a late collapse and a frustrating loss to the Wizards, the story of Saturday was the health of Kyrie Irving. With 5:31 remaining in the game, Irving went down in pain following a tie up with Bradley Beal. Irving immediately grabbed his right knee, and was quickly assisted by the Nets trainer, Sebastian Poirier, who ran on to the court ... as did his teammates and coaching staff.

Irving got up, took a few steps, and asked to participate in the jump ball against Beal, knowing that if he didn’t he couldn’t return to the game. He didn’t jump, then once the play ended, he went to the locker room and did not return to the Nets bench.

In the final minute of the game, the Nets announced that Irving had been diagnosed Irving with a right knee sprain. X-rays were negative, indicating no broken bones. Adrian Wojnarowski reported Irving will undergo additional tests Sunday once the Nets return to Brooklyn...

An MRI is standard operating procedure after an injury like Irving’s and Kenny Atkinson told the media post game “We dodged a bullet tonight.” Later, Irving himself said he believed his ACL was fine, based on initial checks by the Nets medical and performance teams.

“I’ve done some things to my knee in the past, so I just wanted make sure my MCL, my ACL and my PCL — I just wanted to make sure the medical staff did their check,” Irving said. “And the most important thing was to make sure my ACL was fine. But it was just a weird, weird fall. Just felt like a lot of stretching and tension afterwards and it was just a bad fall.”

As for the game…

During the YES Network halftime show, Frank Isola said the Nets wouldn’t struggle scoring the ball against the Wizards, who are the worst team in the league statistically on the defensive end. But the Nets defense needed to improve, he added. Same with role player scoring. The Nets upped their role player scoring but not their defense, especially in the closing minutes.

The game was filled with Nets runs followed by Wizards runs. Problem was the Wizards had the last —and winning— run.

After ending the first quarter on a strong note, which carried over into the second, the Nets ended the half poorly. The Wizards closed the second quarter on an 8-0 scoring run, cutting their deficit to only two points. Brooklyn’s biggest lead was 12.

Nets ended the first half shooting 12-of-24 from deep (50 percent) and 24-of-47 overall (51 percent).

But the Nets failed to close out the third. Brooklyn, who led by eight late, struggled to close out defensively. The Wizards cut the deficit to only three points following a Troy Brown Jr. buzzer beater to end the third.

The game remained close up until the final minutes. With 2:11 remaining, the Nets struggled to box out, giving Washington extra opportunities to score. Fortunately for Brooklyn, Thomas Bryant could not connect on either of his two free throws to extend a late lead. Brooklyn continued to struggle locking down the Wizards on the offensive end, especially off rebounds.

Bradley Beal, still stung by his All-Star snub, scored five points in the last 3:09.

In the end, the extra opportunities for the Wizards led to the home team escaping with the win. The Nets missed six straight shots to end the game and were outscored 15-6 after Irving went down.

Final: Wizards 113- Nets 107

The Nets leave the nation’s capital, falling to 21-27 on the season snapping their three game losing streak.

Brooklyn moved the ball well throughout the game, which was complemented by consistent shooting early. Despite the positives, Brooklyn could not box out nor limit Washington’s offensive rebounds in the closing minutes. The Nets finished the loss shooting 39-of-94 from the field and 16-of-41 from deep. Brooklyn turned over the ball 15 times.

Spencer Dinwiddie finished with 26 points, six assists, and four rebounds in 30 minutes of play. He became the only Net off the bench this season to record 20+ point games in three straight games.

Joe Harris, who’s been less than aggressive of late, finished with 22 points hitting 6-of-11 from deep. He had finished January shooting only 31.2 percent from beyond the arc. However, it was the fourth straight game where Harris didn’t go to the line.

Similarly, Jarrett Allen had a good game statistically, with 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, to go with 15 rebounds and two blocks.

Garrett Temple, who spent four seasons as a Wizard, had a stellar first half performance of 17 points in 17 minutes but slowed down in the second. The Nets veteran went scoreless in the second half.

Kyrie Irving, who was coming off a historically-efficient 54 point performance Friday, took some time to get on the scoreboard. In fact, the Nets scored 29 points before their starting point guard got a point on the board. Despite the slow start, Irving finished with 11 points in 29 minutes before exiting the game due to injury.

Meanwhile, Caris LeVert’s woes continue. LeVert finished with six points, shooting 2-of-9 in 19 minutes. Over the last five games, he’s averaging 7.5 points a game over the last five.

Nic Claxton, Rodions Kurucs, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Jeremiah Martin did not play.

HARRIS TO DEFEND 3-POINT SHOOTING TITLE?

Joe Harris has been invited back to NBA All-Star weekend to defend his 3-point crown, But the Nets forward still hasn’t decided whether he’ll go, or use the time to rest and recharge, reports Brian Lewis. He traveled to China twice last summer and Tanzania once between August and October and both he and the Nets believe it’s one reason for his slow start.

Harris led the league in 3-point shooting last season at a career-best 47.4 percent, and won the 3-Point Contest beating Steph Curry. This year, his shooting percentage is down to 40.5 percent. His 6-for-11 performance vs. the Wizards was his best night in the last six weeks. Back on December 17, he was 5-of-9.

Meanwhile, Spencer Dinwiddie tweeted out an apology for comments he made after the Bulls game about how he was treated the year after he won the Skills Competition.

BROOKS ON KD: ‘NETS ARE GOING TO BE A HANDFUL WHEN HE COMES BACK’

Scott Brooks, the Wizards coach, was the Thunder coach when Kevin Durant was starting out at OKC. He has no doubt that when KD returns, he and the Nets are going to be one tough out.

“Kevin is the best, man,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “That guy’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever been around as a player, as an assistant coach, as a head coach. It’s easy to describe him with one word: He’s a winner. He plays with the right spirit, he plays hard.”

“He’s an impossible guard. I mean, impossible,” Brooks said. “You can’t game-plan it. I’ve seen it all in the eight years I was with him as his coach. I’ve seen it all, and there’s many nights he could’ve had 40 and he could average mid-to-high 30s if he wanted to.

“But he’s a complete basketball player. He wants to do the right thing and fill up the stat sheet. He wants to rebound, he wants to block shots, he wants to guard one through four, and nowadays, I’m sure he can guard one through five. He is a winning basketball player, and they’re going to be a handful once he comes back.”

WHAT’S AHEAD

Brooklyn has a three-game week ahead starting Monday when they host Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns. Following Monday’s game, the Nets host D’Angelo Russell and the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, February 5 and conclude with a trip across the border to Toronto to face the Raptors on Saturday February 8.

Should Irving’s knee keep him out for five games, he’ll essentially have three weeks to recuperate and rehab. The Nets will be off February 12 through February 20 for the All-Star Break.