Subsequent to missing the previous three games due to a wounded thigh, Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant returned on Sunday and emitted for 33 points in 28 minutes in a 128-119 triumph over the meeting Phoenix Suns.
“It’s like riding a bike,” Durant said. “You get your footing right and just get your rhythm going; and I think my teammates did a great job of looking for me all game, and I just wanted to resort back to that work I put in. The shots I work on at practice and shootaround, try to get to those as much as possible to gain my rhythm and then start to get a little more creative as the game progressed. It was a good start.
“Hopefully, I build on this game and keep going.”
For the third time this season, Durant fell off the seat for the Nets, checking in with 8 minutes left in the second quarter. The Nets needed to backload Durant’s minutes, playing him more in the second half, during which he spent 20 of the last 24 minutes on the floor.
“I just deal with it and adapt to the situation,” Durant said. “Coach asked me today if I wanted to start or come off the bench, and I felt like it would be a bigger challenge for me to focus in and lock in if I came off the bench, so I wanted to see how that worked. If I would’ve shot bad, I probably would’ve been pissed I came off the bench, but I was able to knock down some shots. But it was solid exercise for me to ease back into the swing of things.”
Mentor Steve Nash said in counsel with the performance staff that the arrangement was to keep Durant at around 28 minutes of playing time. Picking how to best assign the minutes prompted the choice of bringing Durant off the seat.
“You think big picture. I’d rather fall behind and have Kevin in the back pocket than go up and have to say, ‘OK, Kevin, you’re done,’ in the third quarter,” Nash said. “I think that’s kind of the give-and-take with it, and he’s been on board with it; so props to Kevin to being willing to try something like this that I think gives us a chance to be as flexible as we can be under these circumstances.”
Durant flawlessly fit once again into the Brooklyn offense, playing off Kyrie Irving, who cooked from clue, scoring 34 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including 5-of-7 from 3, to go with 12 helps.
“It’s more the norm than the extraordinary for those two,” Nash said of the two stars’ combined efficiency.
One of Durant’s numerous talents is an ability to track down a moment rhythm and withstand any conceivable rust from a long cutback. Durant has needed to manage a run of wounds and different issues in the course of recent years, beginning with his Achilles ligament injury two years prior, at that point class COVID-19 conventions expecting him to sit this season, trailed by a hamstring injury that constrained him to miss numerous weeks.
“Kevin has shown his scoring doesn’t seem to get affected by a long layoff, whether it was coming off the Achilles or coming off the hamstring,” Nash said. “He seems to come right back, and his rhythm and timing are excellent. It’s very impressive, for sure.”
The Nets assumed responsibility for the game late in the second from last quarter and right off the bat in the fourth, as Durant warmed up with a whirlwind of cans. Indeed, even without James Harden, who keeps on recuperating from a stressed hamstring, the Nets took care of the Suns, who had recently gone on a visit against Eastern Conference peers, including the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics.
“It’s just another game. I think they look at us as a measuring stick,” Durant said of the Suns. “They’re fresh on the scene as an elite team, so this is pretty new to them. So we wanted to gauge and take that physicality they bring, the toughness and quickness they bring, but that’s all it was. Another day at the office.”
As the Nets trudge through the rest of the timetable, the emphasis is on recovering science and musicality for their essential revolution players, while additionally keeping an eye toward wellbeing and health. With the success, the Nets have taken a 1.5-game lead for the East’s top seed over the 76ers.
“Right now, especially this point of the season, it’s about working on us,” Brooklyn forward Blake Griffin said. “We haven’t all been on the floor together, and we’re coming down the stretch here where we really need to tighten things up.”