INDIANAPOLIS — Kevin Durant will head into the Nets’ game against the Pacers on Friday off an uncharacteristically quiet game, in which he scored just 12 points Wednesday in Toronto.
Nevertheless, Durant couldn’t have been happier after the Nets eased their way to a 112-98 win to boost their confidence.
“He feels totally great about it after the game, which is great to see him in the locker room excited that multiple people are in double digits,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “He always says that’s team basketball right there, and that was a prime example.”
It was Durant’s lowest scoring output since a 12:22 cameo last season, on Jan. 15 against New Orleans, in which he hurt his knee and missed the next 21 games. It was the first time since late in 2021 that he scored only 12 in a full game.
But Durant still notched a game-high plus-30 — his third-best of the young season — as the Nets shot 54.9 percent, handed out 32 assists and put all five starters in double figures. If they can duplicate those results against the Pacers in the finale to this road trip, he’ll take it.
“We know what Kev’s capable of,” Kyrie Irving said. “I wouldn’t count on [low scoring] being consistent. He’s going to do his thing out there on the scoring end.”
Durant also passed Kevin Garnett for 18th place in the all-time scoring list with 26,074 points. Next up is John Havlicek with 26,395.
The Nets have four straight games with at least 30 assists for the first time since March 1987. They’ll try to make it five against the Pacers.
Yuta Watanabe (hamstring strain) and T.J. Warren (foot) will both be out Friday.
Warren — who hasn’t played since having foot surgery two seasons ago — has progressed past facing coaches to playing three-on-three against other players. His last game was Dec. 29, 2021, for the Pacers.
Watanabe will be assessed when the Nets return home. His absence has forced Vaughn to play Royce O’Neale and Joe Harris more minutes than he would prefer. It also has created more opportunity for Markieff Morris, whose playing time had been sporadic. Morris logged 18 minutes Wednesday — his second-most of the season — and had nine points on 3 of 4 shooting from deep.
“The ball found me. I had my feet set,” said Morris. “We did a great job and had 30-plus assists. When you’re playing like that, it’s easy to win.”
Durant has accepted the Nets’ role as NBA villains.
“That’s at every arena. Everybody wants to see our team fail,” he said. “Nobody likes Ben [Simmons]. Nobody likes Ky. Nobody likes myself. So it might be like that at every road arena. It’s just something we got to deal with.
“A lot of things that probably factor into it. But when NBA fans don’t like it … they really got love for you. It’s just misplaced love, I guess. But we get it. At the end of the day, people enjoy watching us play.”
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