NBA

Nets' Durant returns and scores 33 off bench: It's like riding a bike

By Sports Desk April 25, 2021

Kevin Durant described his return as "like riding a bike" after the Brooklyn Nets superstar posted 33 points following a three-game NBA absence.

A thigh contusion had sidelined former MVP Durant, who only returned from a 23-game injury lay-off caused by a calf strain earlier this month.

Back in the line-up on Sunday, Durant starred in his 28-minute appearance off the bench as the Eastern Conference-leading Nets trumped the high-flying Phoenix Suns 128-119.

Reflecting on his return, Durant said: "It's like riding a bike. You get your footing right and just get your rhythm going, and I think my team-mates 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."

Durant came off the bench for the third time this season, Nets head coach Steve Nash introducing the two-time NBA champion with eight minutes remaining in the second quarter.

He was 12-for-21 shooting, including two-for-three from three-point range, while tallying six rebounds, four assists and two steals at home to the Suns in Brooklyn.

"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."

Nash added: "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.

"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."

"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."

Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, had 34 points (10-of-19 shooting) and 12 assists as the star-studded Nets – still without James Harden (hamstring) – improved to 41-20.

"It's more the norm than the extraordinary for those two," Nash said of Durant and Nash's efficiency.

Related items

  • NBA playoffs 2021: Clippers' Kawhi remains sidelined for Game 2 against Suns NBA playoffs 2021: Clippers' Kawhi remains sidelined for Game 2 against Suns

    The Los Angeles Clippers will again be without superstar Kawhi Leonard for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals due to a sprained right knee.

    Leonard sat out the series-opening loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, having suffered a knee injury in Game 4 of the Western Conference semi-finals.

    Clippers forward Leonard will now miss his fourth consecutive game – Tuesday's NBA playoff clash with the Suns in Phoenix, head coach Tyronn Lue confirmed.

    "He just stays engaged," Lue said on Monday. "He likes to know the adjustments we're going to make. He likes to know the game plan so when he watches the game, he can understand what we're doing good and doing bad, and let the coaches know, let the players know.

    "He's very engaged. Even though he's back home rehabbing, he's still locked in and tuned in."

    On keeping Leonard involved while sidelined, Lue added: "Just being able to hold guys accountable, talking to guys, talking to the players, what we need to do better on what he sees. If he knows the game plan, then he can definitely do that.

    "So he's talked to the guys every day, as well, not just the coaching staff. He's very engaged and that's what you need from your players. He's locked in and still in tune."

    In this season's playoffs, two-time NBA champion Leonard has been averaging 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists for the fourth-seeded Clippers.

  • 76ers have plan to help beleaguered Simmons amid trade talk – Rivers 76ers have plan to help beleaguered Simmons amid trade talk – Rivers

    Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said the franchise have a plan to address Ben Simmons' shooting woes as speculation over the embattled All-Star's future intensifies.

    Simmons was subjected to boos after the top-seeded 76ers crashed out of the NBA playoffs in the Eastern Conference semi-finals following a shock 103-96 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7 on Sunday.

    Philadelphia fans vented their frustration after Simmons attempted just four shots for five points in the series decider, while tallying 13 assists and eight rebounds against the fifth-seeded Hawks.

    Simmons also passed on a wide-open dunk during the closing stages against the Hawks, instead passing to Matisse Thybulle – who was fouled and made just one of the two free throws.

    Amid trade rumours after Simmons was reportedly at the centre of Philadelphia's attempts to acquire James Harden in January before the former MVP was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets by the Houston Rockets, Rivers discussed the Australian.

    "I believe, without going into detail with what we're doing, I believe we know what the right work is, and the right type of work, and the right way to do it," Rivers told reporters on Monday when asked why this offseason will be different for Simmons.

    "You can do the work all the time. But if it's not done in the right way and the right type of work, you may not improve.

    "After being here for a year, I really do believe we've identified what and how, and now we have to do the do part.

    "We have to work to do it. It's not going to be an easy job. But it's definitely a job that Ben can do."

    It comes after Rivers casted doubt over Simmons' future with the 76ers following another failed run at a first NBA championship since 1983.

    The debate around Simmons – an elite defender and creator – centres on his offense or lack thereof, with the 76ers often handicapped by his unwillingness to shoot.

    Simmons' field-goal percentage has regressed, dropping from 58.0 in 2019-20 to 55.7 this season – he only managed worse in his 2017-18 rookie campaign (54.5).

    The 24-year-old only averaged 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It is the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career low 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

    Asked if he thought Simmons could be a guard on a championship team, Rivers told reporters post-game: "I don't know the answer to that right now.

    "I don't know. He struggled from the free throw line and that became a factor in the series. There's no doubt about that. Still believe in him.

    "But, we have work to do. We're gonna have to get in the gym, put a lot of work in, and go from there."

  • Harden to join Durant at Tokyo Olympics but no Curry for Team USA Harden to join Durant at Tokyo Olympics but no Curry for Team USA

    James Harden has followed Brooklyn Nets team-mate Kevin Durant in committing to play for Team USA at the Tokyo Games, according to reports.

    The United States team is taking shape as they prepare to defend their gold medal at the delayed 2021 Olympics.

    Reports at the weekend detailed the expectation Durant would join the team after the Nets exited the NBA playoffs.

    Durant was on the victorious USA teams in 2012 and 2016 and this year averaged 26.9 points per game in the regular season and 34.3 in the postseason – the 25th-best mark of all time.

    The 2014 MVP will not be the only Brooklyn player on the Olympic team, according to The Athletic.

    A hamstring injury limited Harden to 36 regular season games for the Nets following his trade from the Houston Rockets, before he played nine times in the playoffs, scoring an underwhelming 20.2 points per game.

    Harden went to London in 2012 after his final season as a bench scorer for the Oklahoma City Thunder but not to Brazil four years later having established himself in Houston.

     

    Golden State Warriors great Stephen Curry was involved on neither occasion – although he won the World Cup in 2010 and 2014 – and will not make his Olympic bow this year either, the report added.

    Curry almost single-handedly carried the undermanned Warriors to the brink of the playoffs this year, taking the NBA scoring title with 32.0 points per game.

    Donovan Mitchell, who struggled with an injury as the Utah Jazz lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, has also declined an invite, ESPN revealed.

    Bam Adebayo, the Miami Heat center, will join the 12-man roster, though, aiming to bounce back from a playoff sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks in which he scored just nine points on four-of-15 shooting in Game 1.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.