Philadelphia 76ers Coach Doc Rivers has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The NBA postponed another game for virus-related reasons Thursday, raising the total to 11 pushed back so far this season while two more head coaches entered the league’s health and safety protocols.

Golden State’s game at Denver was postponed because the Nuggets – through a combination of injuries and a newly discovered outbreak of the virus – did not have the league-minimum eight players available to start the contest.

Had they played, the Nuggets would have also been without head coach Michael Malone. He went into the protocols on Thursday, as did Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers. The 76ers were using assistant coach Dan Burke in Rivers’ place for their game Thursday against Brooklyn.

Rivers and Malone join the Los Angeles Lakers’ Frank Vogel, Chicago’s Billy Donovan, Phoenix’s Monty Williams, Portland’s Chauncey Billups and Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault as head coaches in the protocols.

Also in the protocols: around 120 players, as of Thursday afternoon, along with an untold number of other staffers from around the league – including assistant coaches, broadcasters, referees, media relations personnel, stat crew members, athletic trainers and more.

“This is mentally exhausting,” said Portland assistant Scott Brooks, who is filling in for Billups during his protocols stint.

For some teams, there was progress Thursday. Toronto, which has been decimated by the virus in recent weeks, had most of its players back for practice.

“I clean things a lot more. I wear my mask a lot more. I stay in my office by myself all the time,” Raptors Coach Nick Nurse said. “I go home when practice is over. There’s all kinds of things that I try to do.”

Toronto guard Fred VanVleet was among the Raptors back on the floor, after recovering from COVID-19 for a second time. VanVleet’s tale this time wasn’t particularly different from many – not all, but many – players who have spoken about their virus experience in recent weeks, with the majority saying their symptoms weren’t particularly difficult to get through.

The league believes that is at least in part because of most players, 97% at last count, choosing to have been vaccinated and 65% of players having received a booster shot. Every NBA head coach is also fully vaccinated.

“This was different, different experience, different symptoms, different severity,” VanVleet said. “Obviously, it’ll probably take some time for me to work myself back, but it feels much more doable than it did last year. Hopefully the worst is behind me, personally. I can’t speak for anybody else but it wasn’t too bad this time around.”

Entering Thursday, the NBA has seen 558 players – already a single-season record – take the court this season, largely because teams have had to sign dozens of replacements to hardship contracts just to get through the periods of roster depletion caused by time missed with the virus.

That number is certain to rise in the coming days.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

WIZARDS 110, CAVALIERS 93: Bradley Beal had 29 points and 10 assists in his return from the NBA’s health and safety protocols, and Washington won at home.

Beal, in his first game action in 12 days, shot 13 of 23 from the floor in 34 minutes. Washington (18-17) avoided falling below .500 for the first time this season.

Kyle Kuzma had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which shot 45 of 90 from the floor (50%) and committed only eight turnovers. The Wizards seized the lead for good midway through the second quarter.

Deni Avdija scored 13 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made four 3-pointers for 12 points in his return from a virus-related absence.

76ERS 110, NETS 102: Joel Embiid scored 34 points and Philadelphia spoiled Kevin Durant’s return to the lineup by beating Brooklyn in New York.

Durant had 33 points in his first game in two weeks, having missed three games in health and safety protocols. He picked up right where he left off, having averaged 39.7 points in the three games before that.

But Embiid converted a tiebreaking three-point play with 3:14 remaining and Tyrese Maxey and Seth Curry hit 3-pointers to send the 76ers to their third straight victory.

BUCKS 136, MAGIC 118: Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points, Jrue Holiday added 25 and Khris Middleton 22 as Milwaukee extended its winning streak to five games with a victory in Orlando, Florida.

DeMarcus Cousins had 15 points off the bench for the Bucks, who completed a two-game sweep in Orlando. Antetokounmpo had his 11th 30-point game and added 12 rebounds for his 18th double-double.

Franz Wagner, coming off a career-best 38-point effort on Tuesday, scored 20 points for Orlando. Moritz Wagner, older brother of the Magic rookie, had a season-best 19 points. Gary Harris added 17 points. Wendell Carter Jr. had 14 points and 10 rebounds as Orlando lost its fourth straight game and fell to 2-13 at home.


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