Durant propels Nets past Nuggets; Embiid leads 76ers to overtime NBA win

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets shoots as Bol Bol and Paul Millsap of the Denver Nuggets defend during the second half at Barclays Center on January 12, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Nets won 122-116. Sarah Stier/Getty Images/AFP

Kevin Durant poured in 34 points and handed out 13 assists as the Brooklyn Nets rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Denver Nuggets 122-116 in the NBA on Tuesday.

Durant added nine rebounds and Bruce Brown chipped in 16 points in a clutch performance in place of absent Nets star Kyrie Irving.

Brown's jump shot, off a feed from Durant, knotted the score at 113-113 with 2:16 to play. He followed with a floater that put the Nets ahead for good.

Durant scored the Nets' next six points as Brooklyn put it away, denying the Nuggets a sweep on their three-game road trip.

Nikola Jokic had 23 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for Denver, but they were outscored by the Nets 68-46 in the second half.

It was a satisfying end to the day for Brooklyn, who were without Irving for a fourth straight game for what the team has called personal reasons.

His return date remains unknown, with the team and NBA reviewing video that surfaced on social media that appeared to show the star playmaker at a family gathering without a mask -- in violation of league protocols aimed at containing coronavirus.

It's an especially sensitive topic as the league postponed two more games on Tuesday because teams had too many players out because of coronavirus protocols.

That brought the total to six postponements heading into the fourth week of the season.

With a welter of players sidelined either by positive or inconclusive Covid tests or because of risk of exposure, the league and players' union agreed Tuesday to stricter measures on masks, team meetings and even non-basketball activities.

In Philadelphia, the Miami Heat fielded the minimum eight players -- with eight absent due to health and safety protocols.

Sixers center Joel Embiid scored 45 points with 16 rebounds and five steals in a 137-134 overtime triumph that snapped Philadelphia's three-game skid.

Embiid's jump shot with 4.3 seconds remaining in regulation tied it up at 120-120 and he scored the 76ers first nine points in overtime.

Danny Green drained a career-high nine three-pointers on the way to 29 points for the 76ers, bouncing back from an 0-for-9 shooting performance in a loss to Atlanta on Monday.

Ben Simmons, back after missing two games with left knee trouble, scored just five points but handed out 12 assists.

Tyler Herro led Miami with 34 points as the Heat returned to action after having their Sunday game postponed.

Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said he hoped the new guidelines would keep the number of Covid cases in the NBA at a minimum and the season on track.

"All I can do is hope," Rivers said. "Listen, we are not in a bubble ... we are in cities. So we just have to do our best, everyone."

Lakers cruise

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket during the game against the Houston Rockets on January 12, 2021 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

In Houston, LeBron James scored 26 points -- and electrified his own Los Angeles Lakers bench with a nothing-but-net three-pointer -- in the defending champions' 117-100 thumping of the Rockets.

Anthony Davis scored 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as the Lakers notched their second big win over the Rockets in three days -- after a 120-102 triumph on Sunday.

The Lakers held the Rockets -- led by scoring champion James Harden -- to just 14 points in the first quarter as they grabbed a 21-point lead.

Harden finished with 16 points on five-of-16 shooting.

The Lakers out-rebounded the Rockets 55-42 and had 23 second-chance points to Houston's 11. They remained unbeaten in six road games and improved their league-leading record to 9-3.

James's 22 points in the first half included a three-pointer from the corner right in front of the Lakers' bench. The ball had barely left his hands when he turned to face his teammates, who surged up from their seats as it dropped through the net.

James said he'd spun around to make eye contact with guard Dennis Schroder, who'd called out "bet you won't make it" before he took the shot.

"You've got to look them in the eye" to seal a bet, James said.