The Nets’ LaMarcus Aldridge was a surprise addition to the injury list, questionable for Monday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies with right foot soreness.

Joe Harris (left ankle surgery) and Kyrie Irving are out as expected. But having Aldridge’s status in doubt could be a tough blow.

Aldridge has averaged 14.3 points over his past 10 games, with 53.0 percent shooting, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. And the veteran center’s productivity has been one of the best indicators of Brooklyn’s success so far.

The Nets are 15-5 when Aldridge scores in double digits, and 5-1 when he cracks 20 points.

If Aldridge can’t play — or even if he’s compromised and at less than 100 percent — it could open the door for Nic Claxton.

The young third-year center is coming off his second-career double-double Saturday with 13 points and a career-high-tying 10 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. He cracked double figures for a career-high-tying third straight game, and after coming off the bench against the Clippers, could be in line to start Monday.

LaMarcus Aldridge was listed on the Nets' injury report Sunday.
LaMarcus Aldridge was listed on the Nets’ injury report Sunday.

Claxton comes into the Memphis tilt averaging 13.8 points on 72.2 percent shooting over his last six appearances, along with 6.5 boards, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 assists.

And after early-season conditioning woes — partly exacerbated by a non-COVID illness — Claxton has not only posted his three highest point totals of the season in this six-game stretch, but topped 30 minutes in three of his last four games, the first three 30-plus minute games of his NBA career.

Patty Mills’ importance to the Nets as their best floor spacer with Harris out was underscored when he fouled out of Saturday’s loss to the Clippers and the offense ground to a halt.

In his last 21 games — since Nov. 14 at Oklahoma City, when Harris got hurt — Mills has averaged 17.4 points on 43.7 percent shooting from 3-point range in 34.4 minutes. He’s a team-high plus-149.

Mills has shot 48.1 percent from 3 in the Nets’ wins, but 33.3 percent in the losses.

“Of course it hurts without Joe Harris, so Patty’s shooting becomes so important to us,” Steve Nash said. “Not only shot making, but floor spacing.”

James Harden comes into Monday off back-to-back 30-point triple-doubles. There have only been three instances in league history of a player having three straight: five in a row for Russell Westbrook (March 26-April 2, 2017) and three straight for Westbrook (Feb. 26-March 4, 2015) and Michael Jordan (March 28-31, 1989).

Irving sitting courtside at Seton Hall’s loss to Villanova raised some eyebrows, considering the NBA’s rules against unvaccinated players participating in a host of indoor activities. But there is language expressly allowing activities in unusual situations within the protocols that are satisfactory to physicians.

Source: NYPOST

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