Kyrie Irving returned to the court and helped the Brooklyn Nets to victory on Wednesday, while Damian Lillard continued to press his NBA All-Star claims.
In his first game since close friend Kobe Bryant’s death, point guard Irving posted 20 points, five rebounds and five assists as the Nets prevailed 125-115 against the Detroit Pistons.
Irving, who skipped Brooklyn’s last game, fought back tears as Barclays Center paid a pre-game tribute to Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the other seven victims of Sunday’s helicopter crash.
Overlooked for an All-Star starting spot, Lillard boosted his hopes of being named among the reserves with a first career triple-double.
The 29-year-old tallied 36 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists to take the Portland Trail Blazers to a 125-112 victory over the Houston Rockets, who were led by Russell Westbrook’s 39 points and 10 rebounds.