Irving: ‘I just needed a pause’

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    BROOKLYN Nets star guard Kyrie Irving, saying Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) he just “needed a pause” after seven games, has rejoined the team and expects to play Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) in his first game since the acquisition of James Harden.

    Irving missed seven games, citing “personal stuff,” and hasn’t played since Jan. 5. Since then, the Nets have gone 5-2 in his absence and are riding a four-game winning streak.

    Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers will be the team’s first with Irving, Harden and Kevin Durant. The Nets have won both games Harden has played in.
    Irving said he wants to “apologize to the fans.”

    “I am back, I am happy to be back, we got some great pieces, and we move on and I let my actions and my game speak for itself like I planned on doing,” Irving said. “I just needed a pause.”

    Irving said he spoke to every one of his teammates, adding that “they had my back and supported me and my family.”

    The NBA last week fined Irving $50,000 for violating the league’s health and safety protocols. The fine stemmed from Irving’s attendance at a private indoor party last weekend. It was reported earlier this week that the league was investigating after video surfaced of Irving at a family birthday party without wearing a mask.

    The six-time All Star was also docked nearly $900,000 because two of the games he missed were during a mandated quarantine period.

    “I think KY is working really hard mentally to put himself in a great position to perform,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “I’m proud of him for the effort he’s making there.”

    Nash added the team welcomed Irving back.

    Irving, 28, is averaging 27.1 points per game to go with 6.1 assists and 5.3 rebounds in his seven games so far this season.