The Brooklyn Nets were unable to survive a fourth game in five nights in their third different time zone without Kevin Durant and continued their recent slump at home Thursday with a blowout loss.
Durant is expected to return from his rest and the Nets look to avoid going under .500 at home Saturday night when they host the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Nets will return to the floor after an exhausting stretch that saw them eke out an overtime home win over the San Antonio Spurs in a noon game on Sunday, fly to Portland for the second night of a back-to-back and play a late game in Chicago on Wednesday. After their blowout win over Chicago, the Nets arrived back in New York early Thursday morning and started their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder an hour later than normal.
The extra hour did not help as the Nets trailed for the final 43-plus minutes in a 130-109 loss to the Thunder. Brooklyn trailed by 12 after the first quarter and allowed 70 points by halftime. It continued a recent skid at home and the Nets dropped to a pedestrian 11-11 at home while losing for the sixth time in their past seven home games since Dec. 18.
“One part of us is glad to get this week over with,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said. “Traveling across the country and playing four in five nights. Time zones and late games. Early games and all that stuff, I felt for our guys a little bit trying to get some juice tonight.
“We didn’t play well. That’s definitely part of it and those guys played very well. It was tough. You can just tell it was a tough ask for our guys with all the travel and playing.”
Durant enters with a streak of 12 straight games with at least 25 points that tied the franchise record he set last season. He scored 27 in 30:02 Wednesday in his third-fewest minutes of the season and has scored at least 25 in 29 of the 35 games he has appeared in.
New Orleans is 8-5 in its past 13 games and has scored at least 110 points in nine of those games, including Thursday’s 113-89 win over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.
Brandon Ingram scored 24 points on 10-of-19 shooting and is averaging 27.8 points in his last four games following a three-game stretch where he shot 8-of-39 (20.5 percent) and sat out two games with a sore left Achilles.
“B.I. (Ingram) is playing at an extremely high level; he can pick and choose his spots,” Pelicans coach Willie Green said. “The beauty in what he’s doing is that he’s trusting in his teammates, and when you do that, the sky’s the limit of what you can do offensively.”
Jonas Valanciunas is also playing well of late for the Pelicans. He totaled 18 points and 16 rebounds on Thursday and has a double-double in five of his past seven games and 29 overall.
The Pelicans are trying to halt a six-game skid to the Nets, who scored at least 120 points in five of those games. Brooklyn claimed a 120-112 win in New Orleans on Nov. 12 when James Harden scored 39 and Ingram sat out with a bruised hip.