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Kevin Durant and Brooklyn Nets Hit an Offensive Rhythm

Over last nine games, Nets averaging 122.3 points with 124.5 offensive rating while shooting 53.4 percent

The last two Brooklyn Nets wins have featured dominance from Kevin Durant, but they haven’t been one-man shows.

Against Portland last Friday, after Durant led the third-quarter surge that got the Nets even after trailing by 13 at halftime, Brooklyn opened the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run with Durant on the bench on the way to a 128-123 win. In Monday’s 114-106 win over the Utah Jazz at Barclays Center, Durant went for 37 points in 38 minutes and the Nets still outscored the Jazz in their 10 minutes playing without Durant in a 114-106 win.

“It’s just amazing,” said Durant. “Every player loves that, when you’re on the bench and your guys are turning up like that. I mean, Patty (Mills) came in and hit some huge shots. I’m so proud of Blake (Griffin). He’s just a consummate pro, haven’t played in a whole month and come out and hit nine points, four rebounds – he just did everything for us in his minutes. Just happy that we got guys on this team that stay ready and want to go out there and destroy opponents. If we get up 10 or 12, we’re looking for Patty to try and shot a three to take it up a notch so I appreciate them.”

In the nine games since he returned from a knee sprain, Durant has been Durant, and the Nets’ fortunes — both individual and collective — have risen around him. The Nets have now won six of their last seven, with the single loss a buzzer-beater from Dallas.

Over their last nine games, the Nets have averaged 122.3 points and 28.7 assists, shooting 53.4 percent overall and 41.5 percent from 3-point range. Each of those numbers is higher than the NBA’s No. 1 rates over the course of the full 2021-22 season.

“I think some nights they’re doubling Kevin which is allowing the rest of the guys to play 4 on 3,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash after Friday’s win over Portland. “We keep preaching to play with pace, make quick decisions, share the ball and largely I think our team’s grown in that aspect over the last three, four weeks.”

Go back to that lone loss from the last two weeks, last Wednesday against the Mavericks. While Durant scored 23 points, five other Nets were in double figures, starting with Goran Dragic with 21 points. Bruce Brown — in the middle of a major surge of his own — had 17. Andre Drummond went for 14 points and 17 rebounds, while Nic Claxton had 13 and rookie Kessler Edwards was good for 12.

Against Portland, Brown and Drummond each had 17, but it was Curry who made the Blazers pay for blitzing Durant straight out of the opening tip. Curry scored 27 on 9-of-14 shooting, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range. He hit two 3-pointers in the 10-0 run that opened the fourth quarter and tilted the game in Brooklyn’s favor for good.

All those double teams didn’t slow Durant by the way — he hit the Blazers for 38 points on 11-of-15 shooting and made 14-of-15 free throws. Over his last two games, Durant has averaged 37.5 points while making 26-of-38 shots (68.4 percent).

That brought Utah into town, with the Jazz in fourth place in a Western Conference race that has picked up strength as the season has gone on. The Nets were without Drummond due to illness, then lost Curry in the second quarter to an ankle sprain.

Not a problem.

Durant had his 37 on 15-of-23 shooting plus nine rebounds and eight assists. Brown went for 22 on 7-of-14 shooting with seven rebounds and five assists. Claxton got the start at center and had 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and a nice synergy with Durant on lobs. Mills had 13 points while making 3-of-9 3-pointers, moving him into second place on the franchise’s single-season list for 3-pointers made with 212 — that’s also the sixth most in the NBA this season. The Nets also got 20 quality minutes from Griffin at center in place of Drummond.

“We’re rallying around each other,” said Durant. “We’re making big plays. We’re just doing it together more than anything, just a collective effort. You see Seth went down tonight, and Kessler came in and did a great job on the ball defensively. Then you see Cam (Thomas) come in – and then without Drum – Blake and Clax played well. So it’s good for people to get an opportunity to play, but it’s good to have a deep team like that that we can throw guys in that’s been in the fire before.”

Brown’s 22 points were a season high. Over the last 17 games, he’s averaging 14.4 points on 52.0 percent shooting with 6.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. The Nets had 31 assists — their fourth time in the last seven games with at least 30 assists — and shot 54.2 percent.

“We’re learning, we’re getting some cohesion, we’re understanding how to play together, to play through Kevin, to play off Kevin, to play when they blitz him, double him, to be aggressive and play together,” said Nash. “At times I think tonight, 31 assists, 14 turnovers, a few were late otherwise it was a very efficient offensive game.”

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