NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving is not about to look back now.

Not at a loss in his first home game.

Nor at how many more losses in home games might have been avoided if he were playing previously.

His refusal to be vaccinated against the coronavirus left him ineligible to play in home games until Sunday, when a 119-110 loss to the Charlotte Hornets dropped the Brooklyn Nets into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.

It took 75 games into the season for Irving to finally play at Barclays Center, and it may be too late for the Nets to turn into the championship contender that was widely expected. But he said the sacrifices of he and his teammates make his refusal to get vaccinated as mandated to perform in New York City worth it.

“That’s the only thing that I’m really focused on, is the now and getting back ready for the next game and just going from there,” Irving said. “But the point of this season for me was never to just take a stand. It was really to make sure I’m standing on what I believe in and freedom. Freedom. I don’t think that’s a word that gets defined enough in our society, about the freedom to make choices in your life without someone telling you what the (expletive) to do.”


Irving said that could apply to politicians or anyone who holds positions of power.

“So I’m standing for freedom, so that’s in all facets of my life and there’s nobody that’s enslaving me,” Irving said. “There’s nobody telling me what I’m going to do with my life and that’s just the way I am.”

Irving’s teammates and many of his fans seem to accept his stance. He got a loud ovation before the game from the sellout crowd of 18,166, the largest crowd ever for a Nets game at Barclays Center.

But, perhaps tired from playing on back-to-back nights for only the second time this season, his game wasn’t there. He shot 6 for 22 from the field and finished with just 16 points and 11 assists.

“Not the result we wanted, but definitely grateful that we were part of history tonight and we got to do it here,” Irving said.

CAVALIERS: Forward Dean Wade will miss the rest of the season following knee surgery, the latest medical setback for a Cleveland team bitten by major injuries for months.


Wade, who made 28 starts this season, underwent a procedure Monday to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, the team said. He had been sidelined since last playing on March 12, when he got hurt against Chicago.

Wade’s loss will hurt Cleveland’s depth for the stretch run and into the playoffs. The Cavs currently have the No. 7 spot – a play-in position – in the Eastern Conference with seven games left. Wade had been an important contributor off the bench as well, averaging 5.3 points in 19.2 minutes.

The Cavs have been hit as hard as any team by injuries. They lost both leading scorer Collin Sexton and veteran point guard Ricky Rubio to season-ending injuries, and Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has had to constantly juggle lineup. All-Star center Jarrett Allen missed his 11th straight game with a broken finger on Monday night, while guard Rajon Rondo missed his eighth straight game Monday with a sprained ankle.

PISTONS: Forward Jerami Grant will miss the remainder of the season because of a strained left calf.

The team said Monday that Grant was hurt in the first quarter of a 100-97 loss to Washington on Friday. Grant averaged 19.2 points in 47 games this season, his second with Detroit. He won a gold medal playing for the U.S. Olympic team last summer.

PELICANS: The Pelicans converted undrafted rookie guard Jose Alvarado’s two-way contract to a guaranteed multiyear deal.


The change makes Alvarado eligible for postseason play, should the Pelicans qualify.

The 6-foot Alvarado, who played in college at Georgia Tech, appeared in just eight of New Orleans’ first 35 games, but has seen a surge in playing time and production during the second half of the season – becoming a fan favorite in the process.


HEAT 123, KINGS 100: Jimmy Butler scored 27 points, Bam Adebayo added 22 points and 15 rebounds, and Miami beat visiting Sacramento to stop a four-game slide.

Tyler Herro had 20 for the Heat, who improved to 36-5 when scoring at least 110 points. Davion Mitchell scored 21 for Sacramento, which got 17 from Harrison Barnes.

Miami snapped its longest losing streak of the season, and the 23-point margin was the largest for the Heat since a 24-point win at Atlanta on Jan. 12.


NUGGETS 113, HORNETS 109: Nikola Jokic had 26 points, 19 rebounds and 11 assists for his 19th triple-double of the season, and visiting Denver  held on to beat Charlotte.

Aaron Gordon added 21 points and Will Barton scored 18 for the Nuggets, who earned a split of the season series.

Miles Bridges had 27 points and 11 rebounds and LaMelo Ball added 22 points, 11 assists and six rebounds for Charlotte, which fell to 1-13 in the second night of back-to-backs. The loss dropped the Hornets to ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the idle Brooklyn Nets.

CAVALIERS 107, MAGIC 101: Darius Garland had 25 points and 12 assists, leading Cleveland over visiting Orlando Magic in a game in which the Cavaliers lost rookie big man Evan Mobley to a sprained left ankle.

Mobley, the No. 3 overall pick, landed on the foot of Franz Wagner while defending under the basket in the second quarter. He limped to the locker room after briefly laying on the court and did not return to the game.

Lauri Markkanen scored 20 points, Kevin Love had 19 points and seven rebounds, and Isaac Okoro added 11 points for the Cavaliers, who snapped a three-game losing streak and remained seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 42-33 record.


HAWKS 132, PACERS 123: Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 29 points to lead visiting Atlanta Hawks past Indiana.

Clint Capela and Kevin Huerter each contributed 22 points and Capela added 15 rebounds for the Hawks, who are 10th in the Eastern Conference. Trae Young had 14 points and 16 assists.

KNICKS 109, BULLS 104: RJ Barrett scored 28 points, Alec Burks had 27 and host New York won its fourth straight.

Obi Toppin had 17 points for the Knicks, whose strong recent play will likely come too late. They remained 4 1/2 games behind Atlanta for 10th place in the Eastern Conference and the final play-in spot with only six games remaining.

DeMar DeRozan scored 37 for the Bulls, including 15 in the fourth quarter. But he missed a jumper and then was called for an offensive foul in the final 45 seconds, cutting short Chicago’s comeback attempt.

SPURS 123, ROCKETS 120: Dejounte Murray scored a career-high 33 points and visiting San Antonio beat Houston.


It was the fourth straight victory for the Spurs, who moved within one-half game of the Los Angeles Lakers for the 10th spot in the West.

Keldon Johnson had 21 points and Jakob Poeltl added 17 points with 13 rebounds as the Spurs dominated inside, outscoring Houston 72-30 in the paint. San Antonio had a season-high 82 points in the paint in a win over Houston on Jan. 25.

Rookie Jalen Green had 30 points and Kevin Porter Jr. added 26 for the Rockets, whose two-game winning streak was snapped.

GRIZZLIES 123, WARRIORS 95: Desmond Bane scored 22 points, De’Anthony Melton and Dillon Brooks added 21 points each and host Memphis solidified its hold on second place in the Western Conference.

Kyle Anderson added 13 points for Memphis, which holds a five-game lead over the third-place Warriors in the conference. The Grizzlies won their fifth straight and for the ninth time in 10 games.

Jordan Poole led Golden State with 25 points, and Moses Moody finished with 18.

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