Unless Kevin Durant is given a game off to rest, the Nets forward will seek his franchise-record 13th straight game with at least 25 points when Brooklyn hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night.
The Nets, who routed the host Chicago Bulls 138-112 on Wednesday, will attempt to complete their first sweep of a back-to-back set this season. They split each of their six prior pairs.
Durant has scored at least 25 points in 29 of the 35 games this season. He has not scored fewer than 25 points since finishing with 24 on Dec. 7 in a win at Dallas. On Wednesday, Durant scored 27 in 30:02 — his third-lowest playing-time total of the season.
Durant only played the first three quarters because of how the Nets achieved their first victory over a team in the top four of either conference. After a close first half, the Nets outscored the Bulls 39-19 in the third quarter.
“It was good to be on the bench and cheering the guys on as you’re winning the game,” Durant said. “It’s been a rough five, six games for us.”
Durant had plenty of help on a night when the Nets shot 56.3 percent and handed out a season-high 35 assists. James Harden totaled 25 points and 16 assists after sitting out Brooklyn’s 114-108 loss at Portland on Monday with a knee injury. Patty Mills added 21 points, and rookie Day’Ron Sharpe contributed a season-high 20.
“I think the No. 1 thing was the team spirit, outstanding,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said. “From the start, we were all business. We came ready to play, compete and support each other, and you can feel the energy from the group.”
After arriving home in the wee hours Thursday, the Nets know they will be without Kyrie Irving since the unvaccinated guard is ineligible for home games due to the vaccine mandate in New York. Nash said “we’ll see” when asked if Durant would play against the Thunder, but whoever suits up, the Nets are hoping to start improving their pedestrian home record.
While the Nets are 15-4 outside of Brooklyn, they are 11-10 at home. They needed a fortunate bounce on a shot by rookie Cam Thomas in overtime to beat the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday and end a five-game homecourt skid.
The Thunder, who are riding a five-game losing streak, are coming off one of their better offensive showings of the season. In a 122-118 loss at Washington on Tuesday, Oklahoma City scored its second-most points of the season and shot 48 percent, its third-best rate of the campaign.
Oklahoma City, however, allowed the Wizards to shoot 54 percent from the field while surrendering 64 points in the paint.
“I thought offensively we made a lot of progress tonight,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “I thought we really attacked them well. Defensively, weren’t as sharp as we’ve been. I thought we had a hard time limiting their penetration. We just didn’t force them to make enough plays, and that’s why they got 122 points.”
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 32 points Tuesday after shooting 27.5 percent (11 of 40) in his previous three contests. Rookie Josh Giddey, who added 18, has scored in double figures in five straight games.
–Field Level Media