Kevin Durant's MCL sprain may wind up costing him the MVP in the final voting, but his absence is only serving to highlight his value to fans.
The Brooklyn Nets dropped their fourth straight game without Durant on Thursday, losing a 117-112 game to the Phoenix Suns that was not as close as the final score. Phoenix led by as many as 24 points before the Nets went on a fourth-quarter scoring barrage to draw the game within two points within eight seconds remaining.
The Suns managed to avoid a full-scale collapse and end their own three-game losing streak, which has come with Chris Paul and Devin Booker out of the lineup.
The absence of Paul and Booker leaves Brooklyn with little excuse for the loss aside from the fact this team simply isn't very good without Durant on the floor.
Kyrie Irving finished with 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists but continued his stretch of dreadful shooting with Durant out of the lineup. Irving made just 11 of his 27 shot attempts and is shooting just 38.0 percent overall during Brooklyn's losing streak.
Making matters worse: The Nets' last three losses have all come against teams below the .500 mark. These are games they should be able to win with Durant out of the lineup. Dropping a game to the Boston Celtics is fully excusable; losing to the Thunder and a barebones Suns team is not.
Brooklyn's next chance to right the ship comes Friday night in Utah, which is another winnable game. After that, though, the Nets take trips to Golden State and Philadelphia and could quickly be looking at a seven-game losing streak if they fail to take care of business against the Jazz.