It took nearly 18 months for Kevin Durant to make his debut in a Nets uniform after Brooklyn landed him as the top prize in the 2019 free agency sweepstakes, but he turned out to be worth the wait, writes Malika Andrews of ESPN. Durant wasn’t quite at his former MVP level, but he put up 22 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals and brought a new level of excitement to the Nets, who crushed the Warriors to open the new NBA season.
“I don’t think I have to show anybody anything,” Durant said. “I’m just going to come out there and just hoop. … So, I don’t feel like I’ve got to prove myself, but I want to go out there and be able to do whatever.”
Durant played his first official game since rupturing his right Achilles tendon during the 2019 NBA Finals. He wasn’t on a minutes restriction, but coach Steve Nash said he plans to be “thoughtful” about how much to use his new star. Durant wound up playing 25 minutes and sat out the entire fourth quarter as Brooklyn held a commanding lead.
“With KD out there — the way that he looked, he looked all the way healthy, confident in his body, so it was good to see obviously from a health standpoint,” said former teammate Stephen Curry. “That means a lot to come off an injury like that.”
There’s more from Brooklyn this morning:
- Kyrie Irving, who also had a brilliant opener with 26 points in 25 minutes, said he’s ready to move beyond the isolation-heavy style he has used in the past, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “It’s been a long journey to get here and to be able to master this craft and to learn that it’s not just about ‘hero’ basketball. It’s about how great the team is,” Irving said. “I got caught up in that in my career a few times, just trying to play ‘hero’ basketball, where the team success is really going to dictate how great you are as an individual and how great you play a role.”
- Tuesday’s game offered a hint of how the Nets’ new rotation will look, Lewis adds in the same story. Caris LeVert handled the ball frequently with the second unit, while new addition Jeff Green subbed for Durant at power forward in the second quarter, then was used later as a stretch five with the starters.
- The expansion of rosters in response to the pandemic allowed Nash to set a record in his debut as a head coach, notes Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. Nash became the first coach to use 15 players in a game.