NBA

Kyrie Irving leaves the Nets in San Antonio with calf pain

Kyrie Irving leaves the Nets in San Antonio with calf pain

SAINT ANTHONY — Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving he will not play on Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs for right calf pain.

Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said he doesn’t think the injury is serious and expects Irving to play Thursday’s game against the Phoenix Suns. Vaughn said Irving will not need an MRI.

“I just reported a little tightness,” Vaughn said before Tuesday’s game. “It’s essentially just day-to-day. We’ll check it out [Wednesday]and hopefully that’s short-term.”

Seth Curry will start at Irving’s place.

Irving’s absence looms large for the Nets right now as they continue to play without a star power forward Kevin Durant, who is expected to be out several more weeks with a sprained MCL in his right knee. Durant did not accompany the Nets on this road trip as he continues his rehab.

“Everybody has to, cliché, pick up their games and step up,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game. “But really what it does, is like when you have somebody that’s hurt, it narrows the margin. You have a narrow margin for error. You can’t turn it over as much. Your transition defense has to be better. . . . The defense has to pick up The team’s defense must be more aware.

“The ball probably has to move more because everybody’s going to be involved. Everybody has to score. They run the same offense, except with Kevin it’s an offense unto itself.”

The good news for the Nets is this Ben Simmons will return Tuesday after missing Sunday’s loss against the Oklahoma City Thunder due to back pain. Vaughn said Simmons’ back feels good.

Vaughn said his job description for Simmons and the rest of the team doesn’t change despite playing without Irving and Durant.

“You don’t have to do more than what you’ve been asked to do from day one, and that fits [Simmons] too,” Vaughn said. “For him to push the pace, to bounce the basketball on both ends of the court, to get his teammates involved and to give every ounce of energy he has. That he sold out at the end of the night because he played so much. If he does, we’ll be in good shape.”



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