SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Keldon Johnson had a career-high 34 points and 10 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 point 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 three-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 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.
Nets: Irving was not initially listed on the injury report, but was ruled out prior to the game. Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said he does not believe the injury is serious and is hopeful Irving can play Thursday in Phoenix. … Brooklyn’s season-low output in the first quarter is 14 points, on Oct. 19 against New Orleans, and Nov. 23 against Toronto. Its season low for any quarter is 13 points in the third against Miami on Jan. 8. … Brooklyn is 14-9 away from Barclays Center. The Nets close out the trip against Phoenix, Utah, Golden State and Philadelphia.
Spurs: Sochan winked at the camera as he was shown on the sideline awaiting a video review on his takedown of Morris. The crowd cheered wildly as Sochan was shown and then booed loudly when Morris was shown. Sochan winked when the camera went back to him. … San Antonio has not won consecutive games since winning three straight Dec. 8-12.
Nets: At Phoenix on Thursday.
Spurs: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.