Nets, without Irving and Durant, beat NBA-leading 76ers

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Brooklyn Nets' Jarrett Allen (31) shoots between Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons (25) and Tobias Harris (12) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK – The Brooklyn Nets couldn't put Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant into those throwback blue tie-dye jerseys from 30 years ago.

The NBA's leading team still couldn't come close to beating them.

Joe Harris scored a season-high 28 points and the Nets shook off the absence of their two superstars to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 122-109 on Thursday night.

Brooklyn jumped out quickly and had a double-digit lead for much of the second half while winning its second straight, both without Durant.

“Obviously it’s a totally different team when those guys are out here,” guard Caris LeVert said, “but I think we’ve done a great job of having a next-man-up mentality, guys stepping into those roles and fulfilling what we need as a team.”

LeVert had 22 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, and Jarrett Allen added 15 points and 11 boards for the Nets.

Irving was ruled out Thursday afternoon for personal reasons, though coach Steve Nash said before and after the game he hadn't spoken to his point guard and didn't know the reason for his absence, calling it a personal matter. LeVert said Irving texted his teammates before the game and they supported his absence. The Nets said Irving would not travel with the team to Memphis on Thursday night.

The Nets already knew they’d be without Durant for a second consecutive game because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Nash said Durant would be able to return Sunday if he continues to test negative for the coronavirus until then.