NBA

Harden 'going to have to play a lot' after Durant injury adds to Nets worries

By Sports Desk January 16, 2022

Kevin Durant missing time to injury would be "tough" for the Brooklyn Nets to take and James Harden would be set for an increased workload as a result, admits coach Steve Nash.

The Nets earned a comfortable 120-105 win at home to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday, improving their record to 27-15.

Harden starred with 27 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds but the win was marred by a second-quarter injury to Durant.

Durant suffered what the team described as a sprain to his left knee and will undergo an MRI scan on Sunday.

He had racked up 12 points in 12 minutes of action before the injury, which occurred when Nets guard Bruce Brown fell backwards into the two-time NBA champion.

Durant leads the NBA in scoring this season and had come into the game fresh after being rested against his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, on Thursday.

"Of course it would be tough to lose him," Nash said, per ESPN, about Durant after the win. 

"No one wants to see that and we'll obviously hope for the best outcome.

"But regardless of the outcome we have to continue to work, build and grow and get better and compete."

Harden played for 40 minutes against the Pelicans and Nash acknowledged the former Houston Rockets guard can expect more of the same over the short-term.

Nash added: "It's tough – no Kyrie [Irving], no Kevin, no Joe [Harris]; he [Harden] is going to have to play a lot.

"So we obviously will have to be careful as to how many games he plays and what number of minutes, but we definitely are going to need him out there."

Irving is not allowed to play in home games due to COVID-19 vaccination rules in New York City while there are other key absentees for the Eastern Conference contenders.

Harden agreed the Nets had been snake bitten for much of this season, saying: "Yes, with what happened with K and then [Irving] being able to play road games only and Joe, Nic [Claxton], LaMarcus [Aldridge].

"But we have been a resilient group all year since I've been here. We just got to keep going. Keep pushing, keep pushing. Guys got to step up. It's simple.

"Obviously, we know how great of a player KD is and what he brings to the table each and every night consistently. So guys got to step up and fill that role and just continue to compete our butts off."

Durant leads the league with 29.3 points per game, while Harden is in a tie with Chris Paul atop the assists charts with 10.0.

The Nets are now just 0.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls in the East despite winning just four of their last 10.

They are back in action on Monday with a trip to play the Cleveland Cavaliers (26-18), a contest which starts a run of four straight road games.

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