Durant's perfect return fuels Nets' 139-111 rout of Pelicans

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Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (7) high-fives teammates Joe Harris (12) and Nicolas Claxton (33) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK – Kevin Durant was perfect. The Brooklyn Nets were pretty close to it in the second quarter when he rejoined them.

Durant returned from a 23-game absence to spark Brooklyn's most explosive half of the season, finishing with 17 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the Nets' 139-111 rout of the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.

Durant came off the bench with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter and by the time the period ended the Nets had 79 points and a 20-point halftime lead. Brooklyn was a sizzling 14 for 18 (78%) in its 43-point quarter.

“I expected to come out here and play the way I played,” Durant said. “I wasn’t trying to ease into the game.”

Durant added seven rebounds and five assists in 19 minutes in his return from a strained left hamstring. He was originally listed in the starting lineup, but was removed in a revised lineup distributed minutes before his first game since Feb. 13.

Coach Steve Nash said bringing Durant off the bench was so the Nets could more easily control his minutes if the game was close down the stretch.

It wasn't.

“We got dominated at both ends of the floor. Totally dominated,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We couldn’t get out to the 3-point line. Our defense was absurd. They totally dominated us.”