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Kevin Durant says he is getting close to return for Nets

Kevin Durant of the Nets looks on during

Kevin Durant of the Nets looks on during the fourth quarter against the Wizards at Barclays Center on March 21. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Kevin Durant missed his 21st straight game when the Nets faced the Hornets Thursday night at Barclays Center, and coach Steve Nash said he doesn’t expect Durant to play against the Bulls Sunday in Chicago or against the Knicks on Monday back at Barclays.

But the biggest member of the Nets’ "Big 3" is close to returning from a strained left hamstring and said as much in his first interview since he last played on Feb. 13 at Golden State. "I feel great," Durant said. "It’ll be soon that I can be out there with my teammates. The last month or so, I’ve just been working out every day, playing here and there with my teammates, but mainly just trying to stay ready, keep my stamina up, sharpening up my skills so I can be able to transition back smoothly. But it’s been too long for me."

Durant admitted the injury was more serious than he expected. "Initially I didn’t think it was that bad, just a regular strain," Durant said. "I thought it was a grade one. Then we got a second scan and they saw it was a little deeper than that. It was one of those things where I’m not feeling a ton of pain, but you don’t want to force one of these injuries and go out there and make it worse. So just try to be patient with it and just rehab as hard as I can."

During the past week, Durant got sidetracked in a dispute with actor Michael Rappaport, who has been a courtside presence at Nets and Knicks games. Some insults and curses and vague threats were exchanged. Nash said the team has spoken to Durant but plans to keep the conversation in-house.

"I’m sorry that people [saw] that language I used," Durant said. "That’s not really what I want people to see and hear from me. Hopefully, I can move past it and get back out there on the floor."

In the 19 games he played, Durant regained the superstar level he was at before suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. He is averaging 29.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.4 blocks.

"I was playing solid before I got injured," Durant said. "I felt like we were just starting to figure each other out – James [Harden], Kyrie [Irving], myself, and different lineups out there on the floor…I felt like our team was gaining more chemistry then, and that's more so what I’m concerned about.

"Whatever position coach puts me in, I'm looking forward to trying to conquer that as best as I can. But the chemistry of the team is something that I kept an eye on and tried to help when I've been away. Guys have been doing amazing job."

New York Sports