Kevin Durant heard some cheers in pregame introductions and scored 33 points in his return to Brooklyn as the Phoenix Suns surged ahead in the third quarter for a 136-120 victory over the Nets on Wednesday night in New York.
With his mother watching courtside, a brief video honoring Durant before the game was met with some cheers from fans. He played his last game for the Nets on Jan. 8, 2023, before requesting a trade to the Suns and getting his wish at last season’s trade deadline.
Hearing boos when he touched the ball, Durant made 10 of 16 shots, hit 11 free throws and scored 11 in the third quarter when the Suns shot 76.2 percent (16-of-21) and outscored the Nets 42-26 to widen a three-point halftime lead to 19. Durant also finished with eight assists, five rebounds and two blocks.
After the game, Durant shared a brief embrace with Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn and several former teammates.
Jusuf Nurkic added 28 and 11 boards as the Suns outrebounded the Nets 42-27. Devin Booker contributed 22 and eight assists, while Eric Gordon registered 17 points. The Suns shot 62 percent from the floor.
Cam Thomas scored 25 points for the Nets, who were unable to get their third straight win. Former Sun Mikal Bridges added 21 and Lonnie Walker IV contributed 19 as the Nets played without Ben Simmons due to a bruised left knee.
Bradley Beal’s 3-pointer snapped a 75-75 tie and started a 24-6 spurt that gave the Suns a 99-81 lead on Durant’s 3-point play with 2:24 left in the third. The Suns maintained the cushion and entered the fourth quarter with a 106-87 lead.
The Nets inched back while Durant rested in the fourth, getting within 111-98 on a Bridges triple with 8:28 remaining. The Nets trailed 115-103 after Walker’s trey with 6:25 left, but Durant’s dunk made it 122-109 with 4:08 remaining. The Suns clinched it when Gordon and Booker hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 134-118 with a little over a minute left.