Durant shines as Nets roll over Pacers; Nuggets pull away to beat Raptors

Published April 30, 2021, 1:57 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

Justin Holiday of the Indiana Pacers plays defense on Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets during the game on April 29, 2021 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Ron Hoskins / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP)

Kevin Durant scored a season-high 42 points and dished out 10 assists as the firast-place Brooklyn Nets won their fourth straight game with a 130-113 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.

Durant scored 22 points in the third quarter as the Nets closed out Thursday’s contest with a 17-7 run and improved to 43-20 with the victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“I want to create that double team,” Durant said. “But when I have scoring opportunities, I like to take advantage as well.”

Injuries have taken a toll on Brooklyn’s roster this season as they were without former league MVP James Harden and all-star Kyrie Irving. But they have shown that they are one of the deepest teams in the NBA by continuing to win despite rarely being able to field a lineup that includes all of their Big Three of Durant, Harden and Irving.

Harden, who is out with a strained hamstring, has played just four minutes in April. 

Forward Durant made 16 of 24 shots against the Pacers in his eighth start since being sidelined for nearly two months with a hamstring injury.

“What can I say? I have the luxury of coaching Kevin Durant,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “You stick him in the game and good things happen.”

Reserve Alize Johnson had 20 points and 21 rebounds while all five of the Nets starters finished in double figures, including Jeff Green, Joe Harris and Landry Shamet who each scored 14 points.

“The energy was there from the moment I walked into the building,” said Johnson, who was drafted by Indiana three years ago. “I was ready to go out there and prove that I belong.”

The Eastern Conference-leading Nets, who have already clinched a playoff spot, now have a one and a half game lead on the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Caris LeVert scored 36 points, Edmond Sumner added 16 points and Doug McDermott scored 15 for the Pacers, who lost point guard Malcolm Brogdon in the second quarter with a hamstring problem.

Indiana dropped to 29-33 on the season as they are in the midst of the race for one of the four play-in tournament spots. They are in ninth spot, one game back of the Charlotte Hornets.

Seeds seven and eight need to win one game to advance to the NBA playoffs while seeds nine and 10 would need to win twice in order to get in.

As it stands now, the Pacers are on track for just their second losing season since 2011.

Elsewhere, Nikola Jokic had 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Denver Nuggets went on a 15-0 run to start the final quarter en route to defeating the Toronto Raptors 121-111 in Denver.

Michael Porter scored a team high 23 points, JaMychal Green scored 15, Facu Campazzo had 12, Shaquille Harrison and Austin Rivers scored 11 each and P.J. Dozier added 10 for the Nuggets, who have won four straight.

OG Anunoby scored 25 points, Kyle Lowry and Khem Birch added 20 apiece for Toronto, who were missing star guard Fred VanVleet because of a hip problem. 

Denver were down by three at the end of the first quarter, led by two at the half then pulled away with a fourth quarter surge.

They quickly turned a two-point lead at the end of the third into a 17 point cushion by going on a 15-0 run, and the Raptors would never recover.

In Detroit, Tim Hardaway poured in a career-high 42 points and the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Detroit Pistons 115-105.