The star guard lit up the Phoenix Suns, scoring 34 points in Brooklyn's 128-119 win. Durant was hardly an afterthought, of course, giving the Nets 33 points himself in just 28 minutes off the bench. Welcome back (again), KD.
The win was a big one for Brooklyn (41-20), moving them 1.5 games ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference and giving them a three-game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks. With the East appearing to be a three-team race this year, landing the top seed and avoiding Philly or Milwaukee until the Conference Finals would be huge for a Nets team that has battled injuries all season long.
The Suns (42-18), meanwhile, dropped two full games behind the Utah Jazz in their quest for the top overall seed in the West.
Kyrie Irving, BKN: 34 points, 12 assists
Kevin Durant, BKN: 33 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block
Blake Griffin, BKN: 16 points, four assists and a block
Devin Booker, PHX: 36 points
DeAndre Ayton, PHX: 20 points, 13 rebounds
Chris Paul, PHX: 14 points, eight assists
Durant Didn't Miss a Beat
Durant's mini three-game absence after he missed 23 games earlier in the year with hamstring issues clearly didn't get him off his rhythm. He was hotter than summer blacktop, showing off why the Nets are going to be virtually impossible to defend when (or if) they're fully healthy come the postseason.
What makes Durant so fun to watch is how effortless he makes it all look. When he originally returned in early April, he didn't miss a shot in that first game back. Against the Suns, he methodically picked them apart, got to his spots and efficiently led them to a fairly comfortable win against a really good Suns team.
All without James Harden. It's going to be tough to stop these Nets, whether they play defense or not.
Devin Booker Did All He Could
Booker's big game perhaps kept this one cozier than it otherwise would have been, which was all the more important on a night when Chris Paul wasn't much of a factor from a scoring perspective.
Paul's addition has been the biggest change to the Suns this year, vaulting them from a promising team to one heading to the postseason. Paul's been this team's MVP. But Booker's ability to light up the scoreboard is just as big a reason why the Suns can say, with a straight face, that they deserve to be considered among the title contenders.
His big night wasn't enough against Brooklyn. Soon enough we'll find out if it will be enough against some of the top teams in the West.
The Suns stay in New York, taking on the Knicks Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV, while the Nets face the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET.