Basketball

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant hails debutant James Harden

Nets' debutant hits triple-double in win over Magic

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant described new teammate James Harden as "incredible" after the guard bagged a triple-double on his debut with his new team as they defeated Orlando Magic 122-115 in the NBA yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Harden joined the Nets from the Houston Rockets on Thursday to reunite with Durant - his former teammate at Oklahoma City Thunder - and the duo looked dominant in their first game back together.

Durant scored a season-high 42 points while Harden, the NBA's MVP in 2018, became the seventh player in NBA history to register a triple-double in his debut with a new team and finished with 32 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists.

"It was incredible. You could see him trying to figure out the best way to play early on. I felt we all were over-passing, trying to make everybody comfortable," said Durant, who set a franchise record by scoring at least 25 points for the ninth straight game as the Nets won their third straight.

"Then he got into his mode, being aggressive to score. That opened up the whole game for all of us. Glad he got his feet up under him, he's got to keep plugging away, keep getting better each day."

Durant said he was impressed with Harden in the point-guard role, with Kyrie Irving missing his sixth straight game due to personal reasons, and health and safety protocols.

"James played the same way he always plays... the same way he was playing in Houston. Handling the ball, being a pass-first guard, trying to get his guys good looks," Durant said.

"Coach put him at the point... that's his natural position. Point, combo guard. For him to come out and get 14 assists, 12 rebounds for us at the point guard was key."

Harden, who shot eight of 18 from the field, also added four steals and made 13 of 15 free-throws in 40 minutes.

In his post-game interview, Harden deflected questions about his dazzling debut.

"Those stats don't mean anything. I'm just happy we came away with the win," he said.

Nikola Vucevic scored a season-high 34 points for Orlando, who dropped their fifth straight despite playing their most competitive game of the skid.

Terrence Ross added 23 and rookie Cole Anthony contributed 16, as Orlando shot 46.3 per cent while playing without Evan Fournier (back spasms) for the eighth straight game.

ROCKETS PLUMMET

The Rockets' fortunes continued to plummet following Harden's departure, as they lost 103-91 to San Antonio Spurs.

DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points to lead San Antonio in a home victory.

Dejounte Murray notched a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Jakob Poeltl also added a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double for the Spurs in the victory.

The Rockets were led by Christian Wood and Mason Jones, who both scored 24 points. Wood added 18 rebounds, while Jones' scoring output was a career high.

Over at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida, Norman Powell sank six three-pointers en route to a team-high 24 points, and the Toronto Raptors scored their second win over the Charlotte Hornets in as many games, 116-113.

Powell was one of four Raptors to knock down three or more three-pointers along with OG Anunoby, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet. Toronto shot 21 of 49 from long range as a team compared to Charlotte's 15 of 36. - AFP, REUTERS

Basketball