Le Pays De France - Durant scores 53 as Nets edge Knicks, Mavs win in Boston

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Durant scores 53 as Nets edge Knicks, Mavs win in Boston
Durant scores 53 as Nets edge Knicks, Mavs win in Boston

Durant scores 53 as Nets edge Knicks, Mavs win in Boston

Kevin Durant erupted for 53 points to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a 110-107 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday under the eye of teammate Kyrie Irving -- who couldn't play but attended as a spectator.

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New York City's private sector vaccine mandates mean Irving still can't play NBA games in New York, at either the Nets' Barclays Center or the Knicks' Madison Square Garden.

But relaxed rules for the unvaccinated in public spaces meant he could attend the game as a fan -- an anomaly that prompted frustrated comment from NBA rival LeBron James.

"It literally makes ABSOLUTELY ZERO SENSE!!!" James tweeted as pictures of Irving courtside made the social media rounds. "They say if common sense was common then we'd all have it. Ain't that the truth."

Without Irving, who so far this season has been limited to playing away games, and with new acquisition Ben Simmons yet to make his Nets debut, it was again up to Durant to carry Brooklyn.

Despite defensive pressure from the Knicks, Durant was one shy of his career-high scoring night with six rebounds and nine assists as Brooklyn won a sixth consecutive meeting over New York.

Durant drilled a 3-pointer with 56.3 seconds remaining that pulled Irving out of his seat and put the Nets up for good at 106-103.

"Kevin was unbelievable," Nets coach Steve Nash said. "Carried us. Made a lot of big plays. Rebounds, assists, the whole deal. He was Kevin Durant on full display."

Durant posted the eighth 50-plus point game of his career and his second this season.

Only two other players, Irving and James, have reached the half-century mark in at least two games this season.

As good as Durant was on the floor, many Nets fans were just as vocal in their appreciation of Irving amid hopes that changes in New York regulations will allow him to play full time by the time the playoffs roll around on April 16.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is among those who have ventured to say the regulations that bar Irving from competing in New York -- while unvaccinated players from visiting teams can take the court there -- "doesn't quite make sense."

New York City mayor Eric Adams removed the public sector vaccine and mask mandates in February so that the unvaccinated were allowed in public spaces such as bars and venues like the Barclays Center.

But he said at the time that while the private sector mandate requiring employees of New York-based businesses to be vaccinated remains in place, no exception will be made for Irving no matter how illogical that appears.

Adams, who sacked more than 1,000 city workers who refused to get the vaccine, said such an exception would "send the wrong message."

At a public appearance on Sunday the mayor was heckled by a fan asking why Irving can't play.

"Listen, you're right," Adams shot back. "Kyrie can play tomorrow. Get vaccinated."

- Mavericks edge Celtics -

Slovenian swingman Luka Doncic had game highs of 26 points and eight assists plus eight rebounds and Spencer Dinwiddie hit the decisive 3-pointer with 11 seconds remaining to lift Dallas over host Boston 95-92.

A Doncic foul on Marcus Smart on a 3-point shot was overturned on a video review challenge and Jayson Tatum missed a final 3-pointer over Dinwiddie, who had 18 points, to give the Mavericks their sixth triumph in seven games.

Tatum had 21 points to lead the Celtics, who had a five-game win streak snapped.

The Celtics retired the No. 5 jersey of Kevin Garnett after the game. The 45-year-old Hall of Fame big man was the 2004 NBA Most Valuable Player with Minnesota and was NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 when he led Boston to the NBA title. He retired in 2016 after 21 NBA seasons.

Marcus Morris scored 31 points to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 106-102 victory at Detroit. Croatian center Ivica Zubac added 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for the Clippers. Cade Cunningham had 23 points and a game-high 10 assists to lead the Pistons.