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Nets bounce Pelicans in Kevin Durant's return from injury

All-Star forward Kevin Durant (7) came off the bench in his first game since Feb. 13 and the Brooklyn Nets blew out the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday in Brooklyn. Photo by Peter Foley/EPA-EFE
All-Star forward Kevin Durant (7) came off the bench in his first game since Feb. 13 and the Brooklyn Nets blew out the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday in Brooklyn. Photo by Peter Foley/EPA-EFE

April 8 (UPI) -- Kevin Durant had 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists off the bench to help the Brooklyn Nets blow out the New Orleans Pelicans in his return from a 23-game absence due to injury.

Durant, who was out with a hamstring injury, made 5 of 5 shots and logged 19 minutes in the 139-111 win Wednesday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Kyrie Irving paced the Nets with 24 points in the victory.

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"I felt good throughout the whole night," Durant, who hadn't played since Feb. 13, told reporters.

"I expected to come out and play the way I played. I wasn't trying to ease into the game. I just wanted to get right into the action."

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The Nets (36-16) have won six of their last seven games and sit in first place in the Eastern Conference standings. They shot 55.4% from the floor and made 46.3% of their 3-point attempts in the victory. They also had 37 assists.

"[Durant] had an amazing first game back," Nets coach Steve Nash told reporters. "I thought the team performance was really strong. The attention to detail offensively was there. I'm proud of the guys."

The Pelicans jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the first two minutes of the game. Brooklyn answered with a 6-0 run. The teams then exchanged the lead, but the Nets used a 9-2 run to push their edge to 24-18 and never looked back.

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The Nets led 36-33 at the start of the second quarter. They outscored the Pelicans 43-26 in the frame and led by 20 points at halftime. Brooklyn used a 10-2 run to push the lead up to 28 points in the third quarter and held a 115-82 edge going into the final frame.

The Nets rested Durant and most of their starters in the final 12 minutes due to their healthy lead.

Center LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points for the Nets. Joe Harris and Chris Chiozza chipped in 14 and 12 points, respectively, in the victory.

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Pelicans guard Eric Bledsoe scored a game-high 26 points in the loss. Forward Zion Williamson scored 16 points for New Orleans (22-29).

The Nets host the Los Angeles Lakers at 8:30 p.m. EDT Saturday at Barclays Center. The Pelicans host the Philadelphia 76ers at 8 p.m. EDT Friday at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

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