Los Angeles: Kevin Durant scored a season-high 42 points as the James Harden-era began for the Brooklyn Nets with a triple double and a 122-115 NBA victory over the struggling Orlando Magic on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Harden finished with 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds in his debut with the Nets, who must wait to show off their Big Three of Harden, Durant and Kyrie Irving due to Irving’s absence for personal reasons. Harden scored his first points as a Net by nailing two free throws with six seconds left in the first quarter as the Nets took a 29-26 lead.
Despite winning the NBA scoring crown three times, Harden earned a reputation as an underachiever in the playoffs with the Rockets. His tenure in Houston came to a head after a one-sided loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday when Harden blasted the team’s talent level. Even before that, Harden had demanded out of Houston after failing to deliver them a championship despite some impressive individual performances and being named the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player.
Harden was averaging 24.8 points, 10.4 assists, and 5.1 rebounds in eight games with the Rockets this season. Harden, who waited until late in the first quarter Saturday to score his first Nets points, looks forward to Irving’s return.
Irving missed his sixth straight game after being fined $50,000 by the NBA for violating health and safety protocols. He was seen on social media during his absence without a mask at an indoor family party. He joined Harden as the second NBA player fined for violating the league’s Covid-19 rules.
DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points and the San Antonio Spurs rolled over the Rockets 103-91 in the second game between the teams over a three-day span. At Tampa, Norman Powell scored 24 points and Chris Boucher, Kyle Lowry and Fred Van Fleet converted eight straight free throws in the final two minutes as the Toronto Raptors beat Charlotte 116-113. Boucher came off the bench to score 20 points and nine rebounds.