Durant’s perfect return fuels Nets’ rout of Pelicans

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NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant returned from a 23-game absence to spark Brooklyn’s most explosive half of the season, finishing with 17 points and perfect shooting in the Nets’ 139-111 rout of the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.

Durant came off the bench with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter and by the time the period ended the Nets had 79 points and a 20-point halftime lead. Brooklyn was a sizzling 14 for 18 (78%) in its 43-point quarter.

Durant went 5 for 5 and added seven rebounds and five assists in 19 minutes in his return from a strained left hamstring. He was originally listed in the starting lineup, but was removed in a revised lineup distributed minutes before his first game since Feb. 13.

The All-Star forward got an ovation from the first home crowd he’d played in front of with the Nets. Barclays Center only began allowing limited crowds on Feb. 23.

Kyrie Irving scored 24 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 in the Nets’ ninth straight home win.

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