LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Kevin Durant scored a season-high 45 points to power Brooklyn to a 109-102 NBA victory over the Orlando Magic on Monday that kept the Nets trending in the right direction.
While the league-leading Boston Celtics romped again, leading wire-to-wire in a 140-105 victory over the Charlotte Hornets, the Philadelphia 76ers erased a 16-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Hawks 104-101 in star center Joel Embiid’s return from injury.
In Brooklyn, the Nets had their hands full early with the Magic, who led by 10 in the first quarter.
The Nets were up by one at halftime, and Durant erupted in the third quarter, scoring 19 points, blocking two shots and coming up with a steal in the period as the Nets seized control.
It’s been a rocky season for Brooklyn, who had just sacked coach Steve Nash in the wake of a 1-5 start when star guard Kyrie Irving was embroiled in controversy after posting a link to an anti-semitic film on social media.
Durant, who was a ruthlessly efficient 19 of 24 from the floor and also had seven rebounds and five assists, was delighted to see them put together back-to-back victories and move to 11-11 for the season.
Irving added 20 points and Nic Claxton scored 16 points with 13 rebounds for the Nets.
It was business as usual in Boston, where Jayson Tatum returned from a one-game absence to score 35 points and sat out the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
Jaylen Brown, who had carried the load in Tatum’s absence in a blowout victory over Washington on Sunday, had his turn to rest, sitting out with a sore neck.
It didn’t matter at all as the Celtics knocked down 24 three-pointers and kept their offense clicking with 40 assists.
The Hornets, missing Terry Rozier, LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward, simply had no answer for a Celtics team that has won 13 of their last 14 games.
In Philadelphia, Embiid started slow in his return from a four-game absence with a sprained left foot.
He connected on just one of his first seven shots, but finished nine-of-18 from the floor, grabbing eight rebounds and handing out seven assists, while chants of “MVP! MVP!” rang out as he made the final free throw to seal the win.
76ers 104, Hawks 101
Wizards 142, T-Wolves 127
Nets 109, Magic 102
Celtics 140, Hornets 105
Raptors 100, Cavaliers 88
Pelicans 105, Thunder 101
Bulls 114, Jazz 107
Nuggets 129, Rockets 113
Suns 122, Kings 117
Lakers 115, Pacers 116