NBA pre-season: Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant impress as Brookyn finish on a high

Kyrie Irving circled the Boston Garden parquet floor performing a spiritual cleansing ritual by waving burning sage in his hands before tipoff, then proceeded to torch his former team.

Kyrie’s mother, Elizabeth Irving, was a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and Kyrie was welcomed into the tribe in a 2018 ceremony. Native Americans practice smudging, which is a spiritual ritual to “cleanse a person or space, and to promote healing and wisdom,” according to WebMD.

“Just to cleanse the energy,” Irving said after the game.

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After receiving hugs and high-fives at midcourt before tipoff from former teammates Tristan Thompson, Marcus Smart and others, the Nets point guard got down to business and handed out some punishment to the Boston Celtics.

Irving opted out in the summer of 2019 and was heckled persistently when he returned to Boston with the Nets, though he didn’t play because of a sore shoulder. There were no fans in the new Boston Garden on Friday night, and his introduction was greeted with a faint, fake cheer.


Friday night’s pre-season results

Irving scored 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting and had seven rebounds, five assists and two steals helping the Nets rout the Celtics 113-89 Friday night in the final preseason game for both teams.

“Coming here is easy, basketballs the easy part. Its the external stuff,” he said afterwards.

“It’s like going to another day at the job, Irving said. Im grateful to have relationships with guys here.”

Irving’s full game was on display as he knocked down a three-pointer over Semi Ojeleye from the left wing after creating a smidgeon of space with a pump fake. He drove the lane and canned a 15-foot step-back jumper with Jaylen Brown draped over him and he delivered a picture-perfect pass to teammate Kevin Durant for another bucket.

Kevin Durant was 9 of 16 from the floor and added 25 points and Caris LeVert had 18 points to leave Steve Nash satisfied.

“Those guys are in a good position to start the season, obviously it’s not ideal but considering what we’ve been able to put together here in 18 days, couldn’t ask for much more.”

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Davis and LeBron shine as Lakers sink Suns

Anthony Davis scored 35 points, LeBron James added 20 as the Los Angeles Lakers finished preseason undefeated with a 114-113 win over the Phoenix Suns.

Davis shot 11 of 16 from the field, including 6 of 7 from 3-point range. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 15 points for the Lakers. The Suns were led by Devin Booker with 27 points but defeat winless in four preseason games.

The Suns jumped out to a 39-21 lead in the first quarter and led by as many 21 points during the first half. But the reigning NBA champs slowly cut into the deficit, pulling within 69-56 at halftime and 92-91 by the end of the third quarter when Davis hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

New Suns point guard Chris Paul, who was acquired in a trade with the Thunder last month, missed the game because of right ankle soreness.

Raptors beaten in new Florida home

In Tampa the Toronto Raptors made their debut in what will be their temporary home as the 2019 NBA championship banner was hanging from the rafters when they walked onto the floor of Amalie Arena.

However, KZ Okpala scored 24 points and Max Strus added 22 as the Miami Heat pulled away in the second half to record a 117-105 victory.

Okpala and Strus both made six threes for Miami, who played without Jimmy Butler who has sat out both preseason games. Precious Achiuwa scored 13 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Heat, while Bam Adebayo scored 13 points and Tyler Herro scored 10.

Kyle Lowry made his preseason debut and scored 25 points in 27 minutes for the Raptors. Pascal Siakam scored 14 and Chris Boucher had 11 for Toronto. A handful of fans were at the game, some waving Canadian flags in tribute.

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Elsewhere the Philadelphia 76ers got 15 points and five assists from Shake Milton and defeated the Pacers without Joel Embiid. Ben Simmons chipped in with nine points and eight assists as Philly ran out 113-107 winners in Indianapolis.

Domantas Sabonis had 26 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes to lead to the Pacers. Malcolm Brogdon scored 21 points and Victor Oladipo added 20 for Indiana, which was limited to 37% percent shooting from the field.

New York had 22 points from Immanuel Quickley and a stellar three-point shooting display from Kevin Knox as the Knicks routed the Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans and Denver Nuggets all finished their pre-season campaigns with wins.

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