Nets’ Kevin Durant comes off the bench, has perfect shooting night in return from hamstring injury

Earlier this week, the Brooklyn Nets announced that James Harden would be out for at least 10 days due to a hamstring injury. The good news was that their other MVP, Kevin Durant, was on track to return from a hamstring problem of his own. And on Wednesday night, in the Nets’ dominant 139-111 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, Durant returned to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 13.

It took a while for him to actually get on the court, however, as the Nets pulled him from the starting lineup minutes before tip-off. When he still wasn’t in the game by the middle of the second quarter, there were a lot of questions about what was going on, but he eventually checked in and picked up pretty much right where he left off. 

Playing 19 minutes off the bench — this was just the second time in his career he hasn’t started a game — Durant finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field. He also had six turnovers, but that’s not super surprising considering he hadn’t played in a game for nearly two months. 

Postgame, Nets head coach Steve Nash explained that they brought Durant off the bench so they would be able to play him down the stretch if the game was close. 

“We just thought it was an opportunity to give him a chance to play in the second half,” Nash said. “Or if the game was tight to play down the stretch. That way we could manage his minutes and his minute limitations in a way that could allow him to have an impact on the game if it was close. Not much more to it, really.”

That ended up not being an issue, as Durant and Co. made easy work of the Pelicans. As it turns out, when the team with the second-best offense in the league (Brooklyn) plays the team with the third-worst defense in the league (New Orleans), it usually doesn’t work out to well for the latter. 

Durant did pretty much whatever he wanted out there, and faced very little resistance from the Pelicans. To be fair, they are shorthanded, but that doesn’t really explain plays like this one, where Durant just dribbled the entire length of the floor in a straight line and made a layup. 

All told, it wasn’t the most exciting game, but it was great to see Durant healthy and back in action. The next step is for the Nets to get all three of their stars healthy so we can finally see them in action for an extended period. 

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