Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives to the basket against...

Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) and Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the first half at Barclays Center on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. Credit: Noah K. Murray

Kevin Durant’s point total barely factored into the Nets’ biggest half of the season — and if precedent is any indication, he was absolutely fine with it. More than fine, even. It illustrated what Durant has been looking for all along.

The Nets thundered past the Raptors in the early going Friday night and held on despite a tense ending as they won their fourth in a row, 114-105, at Barclays Center. It is their longest winning streak of the season.

Kyrie Irving scored 27 points to lead six Nets in double figures, allowing Durant to temporarily ease off the heavy load he’s been carrying for the entire season. (To be clear, he still had 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.)

On a normal day, a contained Durant isn’t ideal, but for a team that struggled with cohesion and collaboration early in the season, Friday was an indication that things were going right. The Nets had 27 assists to the Raptors’ 16.

“We’ve got a lot of threats out there to shoot the ball, so that keeps defenses on their heels,” Durant said. “If we can win possession back, we can always get ourselves a chance. I think a lot of teams come into our building saying that, look, it’s going to be hard to keep up with them if we just try to make it a shootout, so let’s jump the game a little bit .  .  . We’re learning. As time goes on, we’re trying to figure out how to play off of each other through different defenses and it’s been working so far, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

Durant scored six points in a first half in which the Nets outscored the Raptors 72-49.

Despite a slew of moving parts, including injuries to Yuta Watanabe and Ben Simmons, the Nets (13-11) are starting to play the dynamic, devastating team game that Durant likely envisioned when he signed on


Joe Harris shot 5-for-7 from three-point range and had 17 points. In his first game in 703 days, T.J. Warren, coming off two straight foot surgeries, led all Nets bench players with 10 points, adding four rebounds.

“It almost felt like a dream,” Warren said. “As soon as I checked in, it kind of hit me — this is real. Once I got up and down, it was just like, all right, this is basketball. It was just super-fun to be out there competing with the guys.”

The Nets outscored the Raptors 41-17 in the first quarter, the most points they’ve scored in any quarter this season and their most first-quarter points since 2013. An 11-0 run in the second quarter helped them go up by 36 points.

Some lax defense in the third and fourth quarters, though, allowed the Raptors to stay alive, and they got within seven with 37.8 seconds left. The Nets led 108-92 with 3:52 to go before the Raptors took off on an 11-2 run that finally was stymied by Durant’s free throws with a little more than 26 seconds left.

“You walk away with a win, but you’d like a little bit more focus and understanding from the group to finish the game,” Vaughn said. “But I won’t be that greedy tonight, personally.”

That’s not a bad philosophy, and when it comes to a complete team win, it’s one his biggest star tends to share


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