Durant scores 25, Mills 21 off bench, Nets hand Wizards first loss
NEW YORK — Kevin Durant scored 25 points and the Brooklyn Nets bounced back from a poor finish a day earlier with a blistering start that sent them to a 104-90 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
Patty Mills made five 3-pointers and added 21 points off the bench, while James Harden finished with 14 points, nine assists and six rebounds.
The Nets were dominated in the second half of a 111-95 loss to Charlotte on Sunday in their home opener, which featured protests by fans over the vaccine mandate that has kept Kyrie Irving from playing for Brooklyn. They overcame poor 3-point shooting nights from Harden (1 for 8) and Joe Harris (3 for 11) by holding Washington below 35% shooting.
“I think we came in on the second night of a back-to-back and imposed our will the whole game,” Durant said.
Washington’s Bradley Beal scored 19 points but shot 8 for 22 after missing a game with a bruised right hip. He took 13 3-pointers, making just three, and didn’t attempt a free throw.
“I liked the looks and I was definitely confident in them,” Beal said. “You guys know, I’ll be good, I’ll bounce back. But I definitely have to be better for my team in all aspects and I think me attacking the basket would have been a little bit better. I could have gotten to the line and put us in the bonus, create some opportunities for other teammates, too.”
The Wizards won their first two games but were already down by 18 in this one by the time the Nets honored Spencer Dinwiddie with a video tribute after the first quarter of his return to Barclays Center.
Dinwiddie shot 3 for 13 and finished with 10 points, six assists and five rebounds. He averaged 14.3 points in 274 games for Brooklyn from 2016-21 before partially tearing his ACL on Dec. 27 in the third game of the season and having surgery.
The Nets scored 38 points in the first quarter — one more than the entire second half Sunday — and led by 18 after shooting 59%.
“We came out ready,” Nets forward Bruce Brown said.
The lead grew to 47-22 on Harden’s layup with 7 1/2 minutes left in the second and it was 59-42 at the half when Durant pulled up from a few feet behind the 3-point line with 3.8 seconds left and two defenders in front of him, grinning widely as he jogged back down the court.
The smiles briefly went away for the Nets when they missed their first nine shots of the third quarter, allowing Washington to cut it to 61-52 on Daniel Gafford’s three-point play. But the Nets answered with a 9-0 spurt, with Harden’s four-point play and Mills’ 3-pointer pushing it back to 18.
Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said before the game that “our depth is going to win us some games,” but only Montrezl Harrell and Aaron Holiday scored off the Washington bench in the first three quarters.