NBA: Fit-again Durant helps Brooklyn hammer New Orleans

Kevin Durant came off the bench and scored 17 points on his return from a 23-game injury lay-off to help the Brooklyn Nets thrash the New Orleans Pelicans 139-111.

Durant hit all five of his shots, including two three-pointers, after being introduced in the second quarter.

It was just the second time in the 32-year-old’s career that he came off the bench in a game.

“I just wanted to go out there and dive right into the action,” he said.

“I expected to come out here and play the way I played. I wasn’t trying to ease into the game.

“The game was fast-paced already so from watching it from the bench I knew exactly how I needed to approach it. It was pretty cool coming off the bench, I can’t lie.”

The two-time NBA champion, who also came up with seven rebounds and five assists, had not played since 13 February because of a hamstring strain.

But while Nets head coach Steve Nash said it was good to see Durant back “with a big smile on his face”, they will now be without point guard James Harden for at least 10 days because of a hamstring injury.

Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said his side “got dominated at both ends of the floor”.

Brooklyn also ended Zion Williamson’s 25-game run of scoring 20-plus points on 50% shooting or better.

Williamson, who finished with just 16 points on four of 12 shooting from the floor, is tied with former Los Angeles Lakers star Shaquille O’Neal for the longest such streak in the NBA.

Meanwhile, Devin Booker and Chris Paul led the Phoenix Suns to a 117-113 overtime win over the visiting Utah Jazz in a game between the NBA’s two best teams.

Booker scored 35 points and Chris Paul contributed 29 points and nine assists as the Suns, who have the NBA’s second-best record, held on for their seventh victory in a row.

Donovan Mitchell registered 41 points and eight rebounds for the NBA-leading Jazz, and forced the game into overtime with a clutch three-pointer.

Utah, however, never led in overtime, with Booker getting the Suns off to a quick start with a lay-up, while Paul finished it off with free throws late on.

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