NEW YORK – James Harden would be arriving in Brooklyn soon, and Kyrie Irving could return shortly. With that, the Nets would complete a fearsome trio.
But on Wednesday, Kevin Durant preferred to focus on something else.
“We really wanted to win the game tonight, and everyone showed it with their way of playing,” he said.
The one who demonstrated it the most was precisely the only member available for now from that stellar trio.
Durant scored 26 points and led the Nets to a 116-109 win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday, despite being decimated awaiting a trade that will reinforce them with none other than Harden.
Durant was scheduled to play two games on consecutive nights for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair his Achilles tendon.
Maybe you had more work than you expected. Hours before the game, the Nets left their roster without several players, involved in the trade between four teams to obtain Harden, a three-time scoring champion.
Durant, who has accomplished that feat four times, declined to discuss Harden just yet, as the trade has not been cleared by the NBA.
Point guard Irving missed his fifth straight game for personal reasons, and the Nets only had nine players. The four included in the change were not at Madison Square Garden, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The Nets lost some good players – Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince had been starters and big roles – but they still had a good lineup and could be better if the Durant-Harden-Irving trio works.
Julius Randle scored 30 points and RJ Barrett added 20 for the Knicks, who lost their fourth straight game but still rediscovered their defense after scoring fewer than 90 points in the last three games.
Durant surpassed 20 points in his ninth straight game with the Nets to start the season. It was his first Madison Square Garden engagement since joining Irving to the Nets in July 2019.
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