Nets' Kyrie Irving: 'No Place in Our Game' for Nassir Little Play That Led to Injury

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 11, 2022

PORTLAND, OR - JANUARY 10: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets looks on during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on January 10, 2022 at the Moda Center Arena in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)
Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets superstar guard Kyrie Irving took issue with Portland Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little injuring his ankle while diving to the floor during Portland's 114-108 win over Brooklyn on Monday.

According to Bleacher Report's Sean Highkin, Irving said: "It was a bad play. It was unnecessary for him to dive that far away from the ball. … There's no place in our game for it. I get the intent from Nassir, it's nothing against him. But it was unnecessary."

On the play in question, Little was trailing Irving in pursuit of a loose ball. Little dove in an attempt to grab it, upending Irving in the process.

While Irving came up limping, he said after the game that he was "fine" and would play Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls, per Anne M. Peterson of the Associated Press.

Monday's game was the second Irving has played this season.

Irving is not permitted to play in the Nets' home state since he isn't vaccinated. As a result, the Nets initially didn't intend to use him at all this season.

With the team decimated by COVID-19 and injuries at various points, however, the decision was made to utilize Irving as a part-time player who is active only for road games he is eligible to play in.

On Monday, the Nets needed big minutes out of the seven-time All-Star since James Harden was out with a hyperextended left knee.

Irving responded by playing 40 minutes, which was the most of any player in the game besides teammate Kevin Durant, who played 42 minutes.

Kyrie finished with his best line of the season as well, recording 22 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three three-pointers made, one steal and one block while going 9-of-21 from the field.

The Blazers were shorthanded in their own right, as star guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were out due to injury and wing Norman Powell was in COVID-19 protocols.

Portland had three players score 20 or more points, however, and all five of its starters scored in double figures as part of a well-balanced attack.

The win marked the second in a row for a 16-24 Blazers team that has struggled this season and is currently 10th in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, the 25-14 Nets have now lost five of their past seven games, leaving them second in the Eastern Conference, two games behind the Chicago Bulls.