'Explosive' Durant scores 15 in 1st preseason game with Nets

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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) passes during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Kevin Durant still can score in bunches.

The four-time NBA scoring champion returned from a lengthy injury absence to score 15 points in his debut with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night.

Durant ruptured the Achilles tendon in his right leg during the 2019 NBA Finals. He left the Golden State Warriors after that season and joined the Nets, but he missed the entire 2019-20 season while recovering, delaying his chance to play with close friend Kyrie Irving.

Durant played just under 24 minutes as Brooklyn beat the Washington Wizards 119-114 in its preseason opener.

“It felt great to be back in the routine and be back on the floor and feel like a player again," Durant said. "It felt great. Everybody’s texting and calling and asking me how I’m feeling. I can’t wait until that’s over with so I can get back in the swing of things and just feel like one of the guys again.”

Durant looked confident as he donned No. 7 instead of the familiar No. 35 he had worn for Oklahoma City and Golden State. His first basket on Sunday was a driving two-handed dunk.

“It’s one thing to come back," said Steve Nash, the Nets' new coach. "It’s another thing to come back and look as explosive and mobile and skillful as he has after a long layoff. I’m incredibly proud of him.”

Durant and Irving played the first nine minutes, 27 seconds of the game together. Durant scored 11 points on 3-for-3 shooting during that stretch while Irving scored 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting to help the Nets take a 30-18 lead.