Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving enter protocol; NHL, college basketball games postponed – USA TODAY

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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced Saturday.

Durant joins forwards Paul Millsap, LaMarcus Aldridge, James Johnson and DeAndre’ Bembry and guards James Harden, Bruce Brown and Jevon Carter in the protocols. 

Later Saturday, the team said that All-Star guard Kyrie Irving has entered the protocols, making him the ninth Nets player on the COVID list. 

The Nets are scheduled to play the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.

Durant is averaging a league-leading 29.7 points to go along with 7.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists for Brooklyn, who have won four in a row and have the Eastern Conference’s best record at 21-8.

To make up for the roster shortage, the team signed free agent forward James Ennis III and free agent guard Shaquille Harrison to 10-day contracts.

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The team announced Friday that they would bring back Irving as a part-time player on the road to address the team’s COVID-19 issues. Irving, who is not vaccinated, has not played all season.

Cleveland Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley was also placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Saturday and will not play in tonight’s game against Milwaukee Bucks, the team announced.

More NHL games are postponed

The NHL said Saturday that it is postponing Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators games through the Christmas break because of outbreaks on those teams.

In addition, the Toronto Maple Leafs-Vancouver Canucks game on Saturday and Sunday’s Maple Leafs-Seattle Kraken and Arizona Coyotes-Canucks games were postponed.

Stars Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are among Bruins players in protocol, and Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar were added Saturday. Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens was already postponed as was a game against Colorado when the Avalanche shut down through the break. The newly postponed games are against the Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes.

The Predators’ newly postponed games against the Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets. Thursday’s game at Florida was already postponed when the Panthers were shut down through the break.

Meanwhile, Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, assistant coach Alex Tanguay, and players Givani Smith, Carter Rowney and Alex Nedeljkovic were placed in quarantine after positive tests. 

NHL announces enhanced protocols

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association on Saturday announced stricter COVID-19 protocols a day after it shut down three teams’ games through the Christmas break.

The rules include a prohibition on players dining at indoor restaurants while on the road, locker room access limited to players and club traveling personnel, daily testing and team meetings being held virtually.

It also requires mask wearing inside team facilities and during travel. The memo reminded teams that masks are required on team charters and that some charter companies had been complaining about “non-compliance with this requirement and ask for your strict adherence to it.”

College basketball games called off

Memphis’ game against Tennessee at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena was called off because of two positive tests left so many players in contact tracing that the Tigers felt they were unable to field a team. 

Rutgers also postponed its game against Rider because of COVID-19 issues on the Scarlet Knights.

Contributing: Mike Brehm, Jason Munz, Jerry Carino