Kevin Durant helps Nets torch Heat in Miami
MIAMI — Make no mistake about it: The Nets are pumped up to get Kyrie Irving back full-time.
In their first game since officially finding out that the unvaccinated Irving no longer will have to sit out home games, the Nets rolled over the Miami Heat, 110-95, on Saturday night.
It was quite a tuneup for Sunday’s game against Charlotte at Barclays Center, which will be Irving’s first on his home court this season.
“Tonight, they were extremely locked in and played hard,” coach Steve Nash said. “You could see it from the beginning.”
The loss was the fourth straight for the Heat (47-28) and dropped them out of first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time since Feb. 25. They finished 3-1 against the Nets this season.
The Nets blew open the game in the second quarter when they outscored the Heat 40-21. Kevin Durant and Irving each had 10 points in the quarter. The contest remained so lopsided that the Nets pulled most of their starters by the end of the third quarter.
Durant led all scorers with 23 points. Seth Curry added 17 points and shot 5-for-6 from three-point range. Andre Drummond had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Irving, who had been on a scoring rampage in his previous seven games, scored only 11 points but had six assists and two steals.
Jimmy Butler scored only seven points for the Heat and was held to 2-for-9 shooting. Bam Adebayo led Miami with 14 points.
The Nets (39-35) have won seven of their last nine games. Sunday’s game against Charlotte is a big one in that the eighth-place Nets have a one-game lead over the ninth-place Hornets. The teams that finish in ninth and 10th have to win two play-in games to get to the playoffs.
Notes & quotes: For only the third time in his 14 years as head coach, Erik Spoelstra missed a game. One of his two sons was undergoing a medical procedure. Chris Quinn handled the coaching duties for the Heat.