Durant scores 33 points in return, Nets beat Suns 128-119

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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) becomes entangled with Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 25, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK – Long a superstar, Kevin Durant is turning into a super sub.

Durant came off the bench to score 33 points in his latest return from injury, and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Phoenix Suns 128-119 on Sunday in a matchup of two of the NBA's top teams.

Durant missed three games after bruising his left thigh early in a loss to Miami last Sunday. He played 28 minutes and shot 12 for 21.

“It was a good start. Hopefully, I’ll build on this game and keep going,” Durant said.

Kyrie Irving scored 34 points and Blake Griffin had 15 to help the Eastern Conference leaders improve to 25-7 at home and 20-6 against West teams.

Devin Booker scored 36 points and Deandre Ayton had 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns, the No. 2 team in the West who have lost consecutive games for the first time since a three-game skid in January.

“I thought we started off pretty well, they just continued to make shots,” Booker said. “I think we had a lot of miscommunications on a lot of our switches and that’s that.”

Phoenix led for much of the first half but Brooklyn pulled away after halftime, when Durant played his normal minutes after not coming into the game until the second quarter so the Nets could keep his minutes down and he could play down the stretch if it was close.