Kyrie Irving still refusing to play in Capitol riot aftermath

The Nets had hoped to get both of their absent stars back Sunday. They got halfway there, with Kevin Durant suiting up against Oklahoma City but Kyrie Irving sitting out against the Thunder.

Durant had missed the prior three games due to NBA health and safety protocols after coming in contact with somebody who has COVID-19. But he repeatedly tested negative for coronavirus, cleared quarantine and was available against his former club.

Brooklyn wasn’t so lucky with Irving.


Irving has now sat out three straight games for what the team dubbed "personal reasons." Averaging 27.1 points, his continued absence is a huge loss for the Nets. When asked whether the team was satisfied with Irving’s explanation for his absence, Nash had a chance to say yes but replied only that they were keeping the matter private.

Sources told The Post that the All-Star guard’s absence had been related to Wednesday’s riot at the Capitol by supporters of President Trump.

During Durant’s three-game absence, the Nets drilled the Jazz by 36, cruised past the Eastern Conference-leading 76ers and dropped a heartbreaker the next night at Memphis on the tail-end of a tough back-to-back.

"We went 2-1. I would say that’s what we accomplished in the three games, and we played pretty good basketball in stretches," Caris LeVert said.

"It’ll be important for all of us to keep this momentum going when those two get back, because obviously they’re a huge part of our team and we need them to play well in order to do what we want to do. So, I think for us it was good to kind of get our confidence, get our looks and things like that, because we’re going to need that going forward for sure."

In Durant’s three-game absence, LeVert averaged 29.7 points and seven assists, shooting 50 percent and 47.4 percent from deep. With Irving out Sunday, Nash had another opportunity to keep LeVert in the starting lineup.

"Everybody is battling their own issues over the course of this season, and 2-out-of-3 in this league is pretty solid," Joe Harris said. "To be an elite team where we want to go, we need to be a little better and have a little better win ratio. But for right now, in terms of small victories, it’s a good step in the right direction.

"We’ve been playing — at least these last couple games — more competitively I think, just bringing out good energy. … I think we’re going to carry this momentum, and obviously it’s going to help a lot when we get Ky back and Kevin back."