N.B.A. postpones 5 more games because of a Covid outbreak.
The N.B.A. postponed two Nets games on Sunday in a new wave of schedule changes as a coronavirus outbreak swept through the league.
The Nets’ home games against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday and the Washington Wizards on Tuesday were postponed, as were Sunday’s games for Cleveland at Atlanta and New Orleans at Philadelphia. A Monday game between Orlando and Toronto was also postponed, bringing to seven the total number of coronavirus-related postponements this season.
The N.B.A. has not said when the games will be made up. Last season, more than 30 games were postponed at least in part because of the virus.
Dozens of players have entered the N.B.A.’s health and safety protocols over the past two weeks, meaning they have tested positive for the coronavirus or been exposed to someone who has. Generally, players must isolate for 10 days or return two negative tests 24 hours apart to return to play. The league and players’ union plan to increase testing after Christmas Day in response to the outbreak, but have not indicated that they are considering pausing the season. More than 95 percent of N.B.A. players have been vaccinated, according to the league and players’ union.
The current outbreak has affected stars and teams across the league, including some scheduled to play during the N.B.A.’s marquee slate of five games on Christmas. A Nets-Lakers matchup is a part of that slate, but nine Nets players — including Kevin Durant and James Harden — are being held out of games and practices for virus reasons.
The Nets had barred Kyrie Irving from playing and practicing because he was unvaccinated and unable to play in home games, but the team said on Friday that he would be allowed to play in road games. Irving was listed as “ineligible to play” on the Nets’ most recent injury report; he must test negative for the coronavirus on five consecutive days before he can rejoin the team.
The current outbreak has prompted teams to call in little-known players from the N.B.A.’s developmental league, the G League, to fill in for absent players, and to dig deep into their own benches. The Knicks, with six players in the protocols, started guard Kemba Walker on Saturday after having not played him since late November. Walker played 37 minutes and scored 29 points in Saturday’s loss to the Boston Celtics, who also had six players in the protocols.
The Lakers signed guard Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract on Friday through a hardship exception because of injuries and virus absences. Thomas, who had been playing in the G League, scored 19 points in 22 minutes off the bench in a loss to Minnesota on Friday. The Lakers were set to play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, but they were expected to be without at least six players and Coach Frank Vogel, who were all in the protocols. David Fizdale, an assistant coach, was set to fill in for Vogel.