Kevin Durant, Kelly Oubre Jr.. Eric Paschall

Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant goes up for a shot against Golden State’s Kelly Oubre Jr. during the NBA’s season opener Tuesday night in New York. Durant scored 22 points in a 125-99 win. Kathy Willens/Associated Press

NEW YORK — Kevin Durant shook off 18 months of rust in a matter of minutes.

Durant looked good as new against his old team, Kyrie Irving was even better, and the Brooklyn Nets emphatically kicked off the Steve Nash era with a 125-99 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night in the NBA’s season opener.

Durant finished with 22 points in 25 minutes of his first official game since rupturing his Achilles tendon while playing for Golden State in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA finals. It’s a new start for Durant, but he did the same things he’s been doing for years.

“I tried not to make too big a deal out of this whole thing and realize I’ve been playing this game since I was 8 years old, so just got to revert back to what I know,” Durant said.

Irving led Brooklyn with 26 points and Caris LeVert scored 20 as the Nets led by as many as 38, pouring on the points the way the Phoenix Suns did when Nash was their point guard, or more recently as Golden State did when Durant was their All-Star forward.

The Nets made the playoffs last season but now are expected to contend for the Eastern Conference title after finally getting Durant and Irving on the court together. They used the first game of the shortened, 72-game season to prove they might be worth the hype.

“I think our goals are a lot higher this year and we just want to be able to come in and dominate and do that consistently,” Irving said.

Stephen Curry had 20 points and 10 assists for the Warriors, a depleted team that looks nothing like the powerhouse that won two titles in Durant’s three seasons there.

Durant made his first three shots, one a 3-pointer and another while being fouled, and was in double figures in fewer than five minutes. He did everything but keep up with Irving, who made three 3-pointers and had 17 points in 9 1/2 minutes of the opening quarter, when the Nets led by as many as 21.

Irving, himself coming back from injury after playing just 20 games last season because of shoulder problems, had Brooklyn’s last two baskets of the first half, including a deep 3-pointer with 4.1 seconds left that made it 63-45.

Durant then scored 10 more in Brooklyn’s 36-point third quarter before going to the bench for good.

NOTES

CAVALIERS: Forward Kevin Love will miss the season opener on Wednesday night against Charlotte because of a strained right calf.

Love got hurt during the first preseason game against Indiana earlier this month. He missed Cleveland’s next three games and hasn’t been cleared to practice.

Larry Nance Jr. will likely start in place of Love, who has said he felt physically refreshed as he enters his 13th season.

INTERNATIONAL GAMES: The NBA is still looking at scenarios that could allow teams to play in Europe and China again next season, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said.

The coronavirus pandemic is preventing the league from playing any games outside the U.S. this season, except possibly a return by the Toronto Raptors to Canada – something that won’t happen before March at the earliest.

Typically, the NBA has played preseason games in China and takes some regular-season games to Mexico and Europe. This season’s plans called for a game in Paris, though the pandemic forced those to be tabled.

The NBA regular season is scheduled to run through mid-May, with the playoffs going from May 22 through July 22. That has led to speculation about whether NBA players will be able to participate in the Olympics, which open in Tokyo on July 23.

There are 24 nations – Greece, Canada, Serbia and Slovenia among them – scheduled to compete starting in late June for the final four spots in the Olympic men’s tournament. Japan, the U.S., Argentina, Iran, Nigeria, France, Spain and Australia have already qualified.

Tatum said the NBA is working closely with the International Olympic Committee and FIBA, the sport’s global governing body, to ensure there is “the best possible schedule for everybody involved.” And it’s possible that the finalizing of Olympic rosters could be pushed back to allow NBA players the maximum amount of time before making decisions on whether to play or not.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.