INDIANAPOLIS — Kevin Durant will play the Nets against the Pacers on Friday in an uncharacteristically quiet game, as Scored just 12 points Wednesday in Toronto.
However, Durant couldn’t be happier after the Nets powered their way to a 112-98 victory to boost their confidence.
“He feels great about it after the game, and it’s great to see him in the locker room excited because so many people are in the double digits,” said coach Jack Vaughn. “He always says this is collegiate basketball right there, and that was a great example.”
This was Durant’s lowest scoring average since 1,222 games last season, on January 15 against New Orleans, where he injured his knee and missed the next 21 games. It was the first time since late 2021 that he had scored just 12 goals in an entire match.
But Durant still hit a game-high 30 plus — the third best of his junior season — as the Nets shot 54.9 percent, made 32 assists and put all five starters in double digits. If they can replicate those results against the Pacers in the end to this wild ride, they’ll take it.
“We know what he can do,” said Kyrie Irving. “I wouldn’t count on him [low scoring] be consistent. He’ll do the thing he wants right there at the end of the recording.”
Durant also passed Kevin Garnett for 18th on the all-time scoring list, with 26,074 points. Next up is John Havlicek with a score of 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 TJ Warren (foot) are out on Friday.
Warren, who has not played since undergoing foot surgery two seasons ago, has progressed after facing the coaches to playing three-on-three against other players. His last game was on December 29, 2021 with the Pacers.
Watanabe will be evaluated when the Nets return home. His absence forced Vaughn to play Royce O’Neill and Joe Harris more minutes than he would prefer. It also created more opportunities for Markiv Morris, whose playing time was spotty. Morris scored 18 minutes on Wednesday — his second most of the season — and had nine points on 3 of 4 shots from deep.
“I found the ball for me,” Morris said. “We did a great job, getting over 30 assists. When you play like this, it’s easy to win.”
Durant accepted the Nets’ role as the NBA’s baddest.
“This is in every arena. Everyone wants to see our team fail,” he said. “No one likes Ben [Simmons]. Nobody likes Ky. Nobody loves myself. So it may be the case on every road circuit. It’s just something we have to deal with.
“A lot of things you probably take into account. But when NBA fans don’t like you… they really like you. I think it’s just misplaced love. But we get it. At the end of the day, people enjoy watching us play.”