Nets forward Kevin Durant controls the ball against the Suns...

Nets forward Kevin Durant controls the ball against the Suns during the second half of an NBA game at Barclays Center on Sunday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The key to the Nets’ season and their playoff hopes might very well be how they manage Kevin Durant’s minutes, and the plan they devised for his comeback against the Suns in a 128-119 victory Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center worked to perfection.

Durant (left thigh contusion) was coming off a three-game absence. Earlier this season, he missed 23 games because of a strained left hamstring. So he was playing just his 25th game in two years because he sat out last season recovering from Achilles tendon surgery.

Durant was not on the court to start the game but scored 33 points in 28 minutes, including 20 minutes in the second half, when he started and sat for a pair of two-minute stretches.

"I just deal with it and adapt to the situation," he said of the game plan coach Steve Nash used.

"Coach asked me today if I wanted to start or come off the bench. I felt like it would be a bigger challenge for me to focus and lock in if I came off the bench, so I just wanted to see how that worked.

"If I shot bad, I probably would have been [upset] that I came off the bench, but I was able to knock down some shots. But it was a solid exercise for me to ease back into the swing of things."

Durant entered the game with 8:00 left in the second quarter. He hit his first shot and scored nine first-half points, shooting 4-for-6.

Asked if he will stick with that plan the next couple of games, Nash said, "We want to continue to have the flexibility to decide game to game what’s the best output for him.

"Tonight we made sure that, although he’d load on second-half minutes, he would have plenty of breaks. He came out twice and had a quarter break in between, so we just tried to manage it that way."

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