NBA roundup: Durant leads Nets to victory, Raptors win in Siakam's return

New York, New York - Kevin Durant produced his best scoring performance of the NBA season to carry the Brooklyn Nets to a 109-102 victory against the Orlando Magic on Monday.

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant dunks against Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner and forward Caleb Houstan during the third quarter at Barclays Center.
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant dunks against Orlando Magic forward Franz Wagner and forward Caleb Houstan during the third quarter at Barclays Center.  © REUTERS

In a remarkably efficient outing, Durant hit 19-of-24 from the field, three-of-five from deep, and all four of his free throws for 45 points in 39 minutes. He added seven rebounds, five assists, two steals, and two blocks.

One of the greatest offensive players in league history, Durant has rediscovered his ability to protect the rim defensively this season, with his 1.8 blocks per game placing him eighth in the league while tying his career-high.

Durant was supported well by Kyrie Irving with 20 points on nine-of-17 shooting, but they had to see out the second half without Ben Simmons after the Australian left the game in the second quarter due to left knee soreness.

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Starting center Nic Claxton picked up the slack with 17 points (seven-of-10 shooting), 13 rebounds, and three blocks, while Joe Harris chipped in 17 points off the bench.

For Orlando, heavy favorite for Rookie of the Year and top overall pick from this year's draft Paolo Banchero continued to display his All-NBA upside, scoring an equal team-high 24 points on nine-of-17 shooting with five assists, four rebounds, and two steals.

With the result, the Nets have now won five of their past seven games, and have pulled their record even at 11-11.

Around the league

Left: Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley during the second half at Scotiabank Arena. Right: New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson shoots the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl during the first half at Smoothie King Center.
Left: Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley during the second half at Scotiabank Arena. Right: New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson shoots the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl during the first half at Smoothie King Center.  © Collage: REUTERS

Pascal Siakam returned to the Toronto Raptors starting line-up and looked right at home with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists in a 100-88 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Siakam had missed the past 10 games due to a strained adductor, but mustered 30 minutes in his first game back.

O.G. Anunoby top scored for the Raptors with 20 points on eight-of-13 shooting, while in an interesting coaching decision, Nick Nurse opted to start Juancho Hernangomez and bring reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes off the bench.

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After starting the season with Siakam as the biggest player in the Raptors' starting line-up, Nurse pivoted to a larger group in his return, with Gary Trent Jr. also relegated to the bench in favor of Thaddeus Young.

With C.J. McCollum and Brandon Ingram both missing through injuries, Zion Williamson assumed the role of lead initiator in the New Orleans Pelicans' 105-101 triumph against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Williamson, who largely operated as the lead ball-handler during the second half of his breakout 2020-21 campaign, dished a season-high eight assists to go with his 23 points (11-of-18 shooting) and eight rebounds.

He did it on both ends, as his three blocks nearly matched his total for the season, having only tallied a combined four from his first 14 games.

Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS

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