Nets’ Kevin Durant eager to keep building on first game action in 552 days

NBA

Nets’ Kevin Durant eager to keep building on first game action in 552 days

KevinDurant - Cropped

National Basketball Association

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Kevin Durant felt good in his Nets debut, and the star wants to continue building on that feeling after making his return from injury.

Durant missed last season after rupturing his Achilles while playing for the Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals.

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Making his first appearance since June 10 last year — and his first for the Nets — Durant scored 15 points in 24 minutes in Brooklyn’s 119-114 preseason win over the Wizards on Sunday.

The two-time champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP was pleased to be playing for the first time in 552 days.

“Man, it felt good,” Durant told YES Network as Wizards newcomer and former teammate Russell Westbrook watched from the sideline. “Obviously the circumstances are different, no fans in the stands and I know the Nets fans were looking forward to this day, but hopefully enjoyed it on TV.

“It’s the first step for me as a player, getting back on the court, getting back into my routine, and I felt good. I felt like I knocked some rust off early on and I’ve just got to keep building from here.”

Durant was 5 for 12 from the field and also had three rebounds and three assists for the Nets, who were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last season. The 32-year-old is already hoping for further improvement, saying he lost rhythm in the second half.

“I felt great in the first half, second half I didn’t focus in enough on the shots that I took, I wish I had made all of those shots,” Durant said. “I took a bad 3 to start the quarter and that kind of threw me off rhythm a little bit.

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“It’s good to just go through this stuff again and I’ll watch film [Monday] and just keep going.”

Durant earned praise from Nets first-year coach Steve Nash.

“After such an extensive layoff, he was very good and close to being incredible,” Nash said. “He’s going to keep building and being comfortable with that type of injury. It’s kind of remarkable he’s at the level he’s at.”

“It’s one thing to come back,” Nash continued. “It’s another thing to come back and look as explosive and mobile and skilful as he has after a long layoff. I’m incredibly proud of him.”

Sunday’s game was the first time star duo Durant and Kyrie Irving shared the court together for the Nets after the latter arrived from the Celtics ahead of the 2019-20 season. Irving had 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting (2-of-3 from 3-point range) to go with four assists.

“That’s one of the perks of this position, is you get to coach two incredible players,” Nash said. “Ky was super sharp and Kevin, after such an extensive layoff was very good and close to being incredible.”