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Irving returns to inflict defeat on Brooklyn

NEW YORK, February 8 ------ On the first anniversary of his trade to Dallas, Kyrie Irving returned to Brooklyn  and showed his old team what they had lost with 36 points as the Mavericks beat the Nets, 119-107. With Luka Doncic putting up 35 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists, the Mavs dominated as they improved to 28-23 on the season while Brooklyn slipped to 20-30. Irving, who returned from a six-game injury absence in Monday's win at Philadelphia and Doncic, who shed a protective mask for his nose injury, said it was great to have the eight-time All Star back. "We are just dangerous when we are both aggressive, I think we did a great job, we are just trying to get healthy and get everyone back," he said. 


The Mavs are still without the injured pair of Dereck Lively and Dante Exum but Doncic said the back-to-back wins bode well for when the team returns to full health. "We haven't really played healthy. It is tough to play on the road, I think we did a great job both games, sharing the ball," he said. Irving received some jeers from the home crowd in Brooklyn but had already reached 16 points early in the second quarter. He silenced the crowd with a stunning dunk in the third quarter from an alley-oop to give the Mavs a 74-52 lead. Irving was 6-of-10 from outside the arc, including two key three-pointers to stop a spell of momentum from the Nets in the fourth. Elsewhere on Tuesday, Irving's former Brooklyn team-mate Kevin Durant finished with 28 points and Devin Booker scored 32 as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 114-106. 


Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee's scoring with 34 points but was unable to prevent the Bucks falling to a fourth defeat in five games since new coach Doc Rivers took over last month. In other games, the New York Knicks defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 123-113 but were left sweating on a possible injury to Jalen Brunson. Brunson scored 27 points and provided eight assists before he picked up what seemed to be an ankle injury when he was fouled with 5:31 left. The short-handed Knicks, without Julius Randle and OG Anunoby, had been cruising after going in 70-46 up at the half but allowed the Grizzlies to score nine 3-pointers in the fourth to get within four points with two minutes to go. But New York were able to rally and see out the win to the relief of head coach Tom Thibodeau. "Second half our defense wasn't very good, they shot threes, we didn't challenge, they made them. But getting the win is the most important thing, just finding a way to win," he said. Donte DiVincenzo top-scored for New York with 32 points. 


Last year's beaten finalists Miami have struggled at home of late, winning just one of their last six games in South Florida, but they were too much for state rivals Orlando as they ran out 121-95 winners. The Heat had seven players put up double figures in the game with Jimmy Butler top scoring with 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Miami's defense was also strong, limiting their opponents to 43.8 percent shooting from the field and 10-of-35 from outside the arc. "The grit on the defensive end, I think we brought tremendous energy from the beginning," said forward Caleb Martin. "I like how we were sharing the ball and trusting one another out there," he added. 


Pascal Siakam scored 29 points as the Indiana Pacers improved to 29-23 with a 132-129 win over the Houston Rockets. 




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