Keldon Johnson had a career-high 36 points and 11 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs snapped a five-game skid with a 106-98 win over the injury-slowed Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night.
Jeremy Sochan added 16 points as San Antonio.
Brooklyn lost its third straight. The Nets have dropped every game since Durant suffered a sprained MCL in his right knee. Irving was a late scratch due to a sore right calf.
Johnson was 11 for 26 from the field, including two key baskets in the fourth quarter. He hit a 3-pointer following a missed 3 by Seth Curry, giving the Spurs an 87-82 lead. One possession after Nic Claxton blocked his dunk attempt, Johnson threw down a one-handed dunk for an 89-82 lead.
Ben Simmons had a triple-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for Brooklyn in the opener of a five-game trip. T.J. Warren added 19 points, and Claxton had 15 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and four assists.
A flare-up midway through the second quarter between Markieff Morris and Sochan momentarily sparked the Nets. Sochan held three fingers up near Morris’ face after draining a 3-pointer that gave San Antonio a 39-34 lead with 5:20 remaining in the half. The Nets’ veteran verbally let the rookie know that wasn’t appreciated and then delivered a shoulder into Sochan’s chest on the ensuing possession. The play resulted in an offensive and technical foul on Morris, as well as a Flagrant 1 foul on Sochan, who pulled Morris to the court on the play.
Brooklyn went on a 15-3 run following the dustup, erasing yet another sluggish start.
That momentum crashed to a halt in the third quarter as the Nets were outscored 25-17 in the period.
The Nets were scoreless for four minutes after Simmons made the game’s opening basket on a driving hook shot 23 seconds in. Simmons opened the game shooting 2 for 5 after a series of spin moves and drives ended with most of his shots rolling off the rim.
San Antonio raced to a 23-9 lead aided by Brooklyn’s six turnovers.
San Antonio led Brooklyn 27-15 after the first quarter. It was the fewest points scored by a Spurs opponent in the first quarter this season. The previous low was 23 points by Minnesota on Oct. 30. The Nets were slowed by seven turnovers.