Harden posts triple double in NBA debut with Brooklyn Nets
Los Angeles (AFP) –
Kevin Durant scored a season-high 42 points as the James Harden-era began for the Brooklyn Nets with a triple double and a 122-115 NBA victory over the struggling Orlando Magic on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Harden finished with 32 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds in his debut with the Nets, who will have to wait a little longer to show off their new Big Three of Harden, Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Harden, who became the first player in history to record a 30-point triple double in their debut for a new club, slammed the door on his way out of Houston after a four-team trade deal was completed.
But he was clearly pleased with his new club on Saturday, which sees him reunited with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Durant.
Despite winning the NBA scoring championship three times, Harden earned a reputation as being an underachiever in the playoffs with the Rockets.
His tenure in Houston came to a head after a one-sided loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday when Harden blasted the team's talent level. Even before that, Harden had demanded out of Houston after failing to deliver them a championship despite some impressive individual performances which included being named the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player.
Two days later after saying the Rockets were "just not good enough", Harden was on his way to Brooklyn after being acquired in a blockbuster four-team trade that saw Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and a number of draft picks go to Houston.
Harden was averaging 24.8 points, 10.4 assists, and 5.1 rebounds in eight games with the Rockets this season.
On Saturday, Harden waited until late in the first quarter to score his first Nets points.
The Nets will still have to wait to see their fully functioning Big Three, as Harden's backcourt partner Irving remains away from the team for personal reasons.
Irving missed his sixth straight game after being fined $50,000 by the NBA for violating health and safety protocols. He was seen on social media during his absence without a mask at an indoor family party.
He joined Harden as the second NBA player fined for violating the league's Covid-19 rules.
Four-time scoring champ Durant shot 16 of 26 from the floor against the Magic and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line.
Heading into his 10th career game with Brooklyn, Durant was averaging 29 points and seven rebounds per game. Joe Harris tallied 17 points and Jeff Green scored 10 points in the win.
- Spurs rip Rockets -
Nikola Vucevic finished with a team-high 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead Orlando, who have lost five straight.
Terrence Ross scored 23 points off the bench and veteran Carmelo Anthony had 16 points as six Magic players reached double figures.
Evan Fournier missed his eighth straight game because of a back injury.
Also, DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points and the San Antonio Spurs rolled over the Rockets 103-91 in the second game between the teams over a three-day span.
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