Durant almost perfect in rout of Magic
Superstar misses once in brilliant 30-point performance
It happened with 3:58 remaining in the first quarter of the Brooklyn Nets’ 123-90 demolition of the Orlando Magic Wednesday night in front of 13,882 fans at the Amway Center.
Kevin Durant missed a shot!
It proved to be the superstar forward’s only clang of the night as the Nets (8-(8-4) rebounded from Monday’s humbling loss in Chicago by manhandling the Magic (3-9), who watched Durant bury 11-of-12 shots, including both of his 3-point attempts, before taking the fourth quarter off.
“We just wanted to come back and get that bad taste out of our mouth,” said James Harden after posting his 59th career triple-double and 14th as a Net with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
Harden joined Durant on the bench for the final 12 minutes, watching as the Nets outscored Orlando, 29-15, before the buzzer sounded.
Though he remains the NBA’s leading scorer and is arguably the best player on the planet, Durant chose not to dwell on his near-perfect night.
Instead, he gave it up to LaMarcus Aldridge, who guided the second unit on its game-ending run and finished with 21 points to help the Nets improve to 3-1 on their ongoing six-game road trip, which continues Friday night in New Orleans.
“I was glad he was able to come out and extend the lead for us, and win the game for us basically,” Durant said of Aldridge, who retired last season due to a heart condition before signing with the Nets again this past summer.
“A true professional,” Harden added. “He basically retired last year and had the confidence to come back, and he’s doing it all for us.”
So is Durant, who already appears poised to chase down his second career Most Valuable Player award as well as his third NBA championship and first here in Brooklyn.
With the Nets protecting a 12-point lead at the half, Durant put up 13 quick points in the third quarter, including an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Harden to give Brooklyn a 94-75 cushion.
“They went on their run early and we’ve got to be able to bounce back from that,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley told the Associated Press.
“Against this team you have to play before the defense is set. You have to create problems on the defensive end so it leads to points on the other end.”
Terrence Ross had 17 points and Mo Bamba added 14 for the Magic, who went a dismal 4-of-33 from 3-point range while the Nets swished 16-of-37 shots from beyond the arc, including three by sharpshooter Joe Harris.
Reserve DeAndre’ Bembry added 11 points and Jevon Carter finished with 10 for Brooklyn, which got a whopping 59 points from its bench.
“That (second) unit did an unbelievable job,” Harden gushed. “A great effort in a bounce-back win.”
NOTHING BUT NET: While the Nets plowed through the Magic in Orlando, Kyrie Irving spent some time watching basketball in his home state. The New Jersey native took in Wednesday night’s Seton Hall game vs. Fairleigh Dickinson. The Pirates blew past the Knights, 93-49, at the Prudential Center and Irving sat courtside with former NBA forward Tim Thomas. Though he did not speak the reporters, Irving did apparently inspire the Pirates and head coach Kevin Willard. “It was great to see Kyrie,” Willard told NJ.com. “I had invited him back but I think he had dinner plans so I think he was going out to dinner. I was hoping he would speak to the team, but unfortunately he’s not playing. Hopefully he gets to play soon but he’s more than welcome to practice with us and come hang out with us anytime he wants.” Irving has not played a single game for Brooklyn this year due to his ongoing lack of compliance with New York City’s vaccination mandate for players and personnel in and around Downtown’s Barclays Center. Though he was eligible to play in most road contests, the Nets decided to go it without Irving until he takes at least one vaccine shot or mandate restrictions are eased.
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