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.
Durant came off the bench with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the second quarter. By the time the period ended the Nets had 79 points and a 20-point halftime lead. Brooklyn was a sizzling 14 for 18 in its 43-point quarter.
Kyrie Irving scored 24 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 in the Nets’ ninth straight home win.
Also in NBA action:
— Devin Booker scored 35 points, Chris Paul added 29 and the Phoenix Suns beat the Utah Jazz 117-113 in overtime Wednesday night in an entertaining matchup between the top two teams in the NBA. Booker had a couple of clutch mid-range jumpers to keep the Jazz behind and Paul made a 3-pointer with a minute left that pushed Phoenix ahead 114-108. Utah pulled to 114-112 on Mike Conley’s layup with 21 seconds left, but could never tie it. Paul hit two free throws with 7.8 seconds left to finally seal it and wrap up the season series with a game left. Phoenix has won seven in a row. Donovan Mitchell led Utah with 41 points.
— Bradley Beal returned from a five-game absence and scored 26 points, Russell Westbrook had his 20th triple-double of the season and the Washington Wizards beat the Orlando Magic 131-116. The Wizards made a season-best 19 3-pointers. Washington snapped a four-game losing streak, but not before it blew most of a 21-point third-quarter lead.
— Aaron Holiday scored 22 points, brother Justin Holiday had 21 and the short-handed Indiana Pacers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 141-137 on Wednesday night. The Pacers were without All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis and three other injured starters, and had lost nine of 10 home games. Karl Anthony-Towns led NBA-worst Minnesota with 32 points. Anthony Edwards had 27.
— Grayson Allen scored 17 of his season-high 30 points in a dominant third quarter, leading the Memphis Grizzlies to a 131-113 win over the short-handed Atlanta Hawks. Ja Morant added 14 of his 19 points in the Grizzlies’ decisive quarter as Memphis outscored Atlanta 43-23 in the third to break open a close game ending Atlanta’s four-game winning streak ended.
— Jaylen Brown had 32 points and 10 rebounds and the Boston Celtics rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the New York Knicks 101-99. Jayson Tatum committed eight turnovers but finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Marcus Smart added 17 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, and nine assists. The Celtics have won three of four.
— Jalen McDaniels had a career-high 21 points in his second career start with six rebounds and three assists to help the Charlotte Hornets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-102. Terry Rozier scored 17 points, Miles Bridges had 16 and Devonte’ Garaham and Cody Zeller added 15 each. Aleksej Pokusevski led the Thunder with a career-high 25 points behind a franchise rookie-record seven 3-pointers. Theo Maledon also had 25 points.
— John Wall had 31 points in his return from injury as the Houston Rockets snapped a five-game skid with a 102-93 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Christian Wood added 22 points and 10 rebounds. Kristaps Porzingis had 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Mavericks, and Luka Doncic also scored 23 but had a cold shooting night.
— Nikola Jokic had 25 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds to help the surging Denver Nuggets beat the San Antonio Spurs 106-96. Michael Porter Jr. added 18 points and 10 rebounds in the opener of the two-game set in Denver. Denver has won seven in a row and has yet to lose in six games since Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee came over in trade-deadline deals.
Elsewhere in the NBA:
—The Detroit Pistons signed forward Tyler Cook to a multi-year contract after two consecutive 10-day deals. Terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed. The 6-foot-8 Cook has appeared in 11 games with the Pistons, averaging 4.0 points in 13.8 minutes per game. The 23-year-old Cook has played in 28 career games with Detroit, Cleveland, Denver and Brooklyn.