With Kevin Durant forced to leave, Nets fall to Raptors 123-117

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It was a bizarre night in Brooklyn for the Nets on Friday — with superstar Kevin Durant initially kept out of the game, then allowed in, then ultimately removed in the third quarter because of the NBA’s health and safety protocos.

In the end, the Toronto Raptors beat the Nets 123-117 behind 33 points from Pascal Siakam.

Afterward, Durant issued the two-word message, “Free me,” on Twitter, and later ripped the NBA for what he described as “Wack a– PR tactics,” after the league issued a statement on his removal.

“Yo @nba,” Durant wrote, “your fans aren’t dumb!!!! You can’t fool em with your Wack a– PR tactics.”

He was reacting to the phrase “abundance of caution” that the NBA used in a statement about the matter after the game.

According to the NBA statement, posted by writer Shams Charania, Durant tested negative for the coronavirus “three times in the last 24 hours,” but the someone with whom he came in contact “had an inconclusive test result shortly before the game.” 

That person’s test prompted the delay in Durant entering the game. Then laterm when the contact’s test came back positive during the game, Durant was removed.

Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam (43) and Chris Boucher (25) defend against Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Associated Press)

“Once that test was confirmed positive, out of an abundance of caution, Durant was removed from the game, and contact tracing is underway to determine if he was in fact a close contact of the positive individual.”

Friday was Durant’s first game against the Raptors since rupturing his Achilles tendon in the 2019 NBA Finals while he was a member of the Golden State Warriors. He entered as a reserve for the first time in his 867-game NBA career, according to The Associated Press.

The Nets had rallied from a 17-point deficit by then to take the lead, but couldn’t hold on without the NBA’s No. 2 scorer.

Kyle Lowry added 30 points and seven assists for the Raptors. Siakam had 11 rebounds and six assists.

Joe Harris scored 19 points and James Harden had 17 points and 12 assists for the Nets.

Durant finished with eight points, after scoring 20 or more in each of his first 17 games, his longest streak to start a season in his career.

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