For the first time in over 50 days, Kevin Durant stepped foot onto the floor in Barclays Center for the Brooklyn Nets. Unsurprisingly, he reminded the league why he remains one of the best players in the modern NBA.
Durant entered at the 7:22 mark of the second quarter, coming off of the bench for Steve Nash’s squad. The appearance marked his first since mid-February, when the 32-year-old forward suffered a right hamstring strain that sidelined him for almost two months.
But, Durant didn’t skip a beat in his return on Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans. In just 18 minutes and 56 seconds of action, the Nets star poured in 17 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting from the floor. He added seven rebounds, five assists and a 5-for-5 night at the free throw line in Brooklyn’s 139-111 blowout win.
Durant clearly picked his spots brilliantly on his way to a flawless performance, but it was his movement that wowed most viewers on Wednesday. The 32-year-old moved fluidly and looked comfortable on the floor, despite having not played at game speed in nearly two months.
Needless to say, the NBA world was impressed at Durant’s return to the Nets on Wednesday.
Kevin Durant is the true definition of a Hooper! I mean damn he’s been off for almost 2 months and haven’t missed a beat!!! God Bless America.
— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) April 8, 2021
.@RealSkipBayless on KD dropping 17 points on 5-of-5 shooting in his Nets return:
"I would like to welcome back the best player on the planet! Kevin Durant immediately left rust in the dust. And he did it off the bench." pic.twitter.com/rNGHu7f7Zm
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) April 8, 2021
Durant looked terrific. The Nets looked ridiculous.
— Ryan Ruocco (@RyanRuocco) April 8, 2021
Kevin Durant’s return to the Nets couldn’t have gone much better. He didn’t miss a shot, physically looked great and made chemistry look like something for high school students to worry about. On Durant’s first game in nearly two months: https://t.co/mhvq02b26x
— Alex Schiffer (@Alex__Schiffer) April 8, 2021
Blake Griffin reflects on Kevin Durant's return: "After missing 2 months, and then coming back and looking that comfortable is crazy" pic.twitter.com/3lpW5zsu8g
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) April 8, 2021
Although his chemistry with his teammates didn’t seem to waiver when he entered the game against the Pelicans, getting Durant more playing time with their other superstars on the floor will be crucial for the Nets down the final stretch of the regular season. Durant has only played with Kyrie Irving and James Harden in seven games this year, which has sparked some concern about their postseason potential.
Brooklyn will have to wait a little while longer to get its “Big Three” back together on the court. Harden suffered a hamstring strain last week and will miss at least the next 10 days.
With 20 games remaining, the Nets sit alone atop the Eastern Conference, but will need to get their best players healthy before the start of the playoffs in late May.