Durant helps Nets end four-game slide
Scores 36 in bounce-back win over Pacers at Barclays
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Ben Simmons took a seat on Halloween and Kevin Durant displayed just how scary he can be as the Brooklyn Nets snapped their season-high four-game losing streak.
Simmons missed his first game of the year Monday with a sore left knee, but Durant poured in 36 points, grabbed nine rebounds and handed out seven assists as the previously slumping Nets held off the Indiana Pacers, 116-109, in front of 15,770 relieved fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
“It was very important for us to get a response,” Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash admitted. “The win is nice, but I care much more about the process. And I thought our process was great.”
Simmons, who missed all of last season with mental-health concerns and a herniated disk in his back, was averaging just 6.2 points per game to go with 6.5 rebounds and 7.2 assists.
The versatile point guard is in position to be Brooklyn’s third option behind Durant and Irving, but hasn’t yet found the groove that made him a three-time NBA All-Star before his extended hiatus.
Durant didn’t blink at being down a man.
The superstar forward went 13-of-22 from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers, and sank all eight of his free throws to help Brooklyn get its first win since edging Toronto here on Oct. 21.
The Nets (2-5) dropped a 125-116 decision to the Pacers (3-5) here on Saturday, and were deadlocked at 100-100 in the fourth quarter before pulling away in the rematch.
Nic Claxton’s two-hand jam on the ensuing trip put Brooklyn ahead to stay. Durant followed with a jumper and two free throws before Kyrie Irving’s floater in the lane settlled matters.
Irving, who scored 35 points in the opener vs. Indiana, had 28 points and Claxton finished with 19 points and nine boards for the Nets, who will host Chicago here on Tuesday before opening a three-game road trip in Washington, D.C., on Friday night.
Chris Duarte scored 30 points and Buddy Hield added 22 for the Pacers, who had a two-game winning streak snapped.
“They’ve got two guys who are just breathtaking playmakers and shotmakers in Irving and (Durant),” Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Those guys are (going to) hit some of those shots.”
Durant did more than carry the Nets out of their doldrums Monday.
He also passed Vince Carter for 19th place on the all-time scoring list and became the first Brooklyn player to put up at least 25 points in seven straight games to begin a season.
“You definitely can’t take (Durant) for granted,” Claxton said. “Seeing him work his way back from the Achilles injury (in 2019), went to rehab and how serious he took every single step. And now these past few years he’s doing his thing. Definitely you don’t take that for granted. It’s a pleasure to watch.”
The Nets hope to watch Durant continue to lead them back into contention Thursday against the Bulls.
NOTHING BUT NET: After visiting our nation’s capital on Friday, the Nets will travel to Charlotte on Saturday and Dallas on Monday. The Nets dropped a 129-125 overtime decision to the Mavericks in Brooklyn last Thursday. … Durant has 25,753 career points.
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