On opening night in December, the Nets blew out Golden State by 26 points at Barclays Center in Kevin Durant’s first game against his former team, but Saturday night at Chase Center marked Durant’s return to the Bay Area. However, the occasion was tempered by the absence of fans.
"It’s exciting," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. "You get certain nights where you’re playing maybe a great team or a player you used to coach. In this case, it’s both, and this is a Saturday night national TV game. So it will have a special feel to it, but the regret is that our fans won’t be here to welcome KD back and to celebrate what he meant for us and our franchise. I hope that next year we’ll have people in the stands and we’ll be able to give him a proper reception."
Golden State planned a video tribute honoring Durant during the first timeout in the opening period, but a team spokesman said they expect to stage a more elaborate welcome ceremony next season if they have fans.
The game also marked the return of Nets coach Steve Nash to the Bay Area, where he had worked with Kerr as a development consultant.
"Steve’s team radically changed a month or so into his first season when they made the [James] Harden trade," Kerr said. "Steve would tell you just like I would that ‘I’ll take talent over a rebuilding situation any day.’ Steve and I have both been blessed in our first jobs.’ "
Dinwiddie eyes return
Spencer Dinwiddie, who underwent knee surgery last month, recently tweeted about a possible return this season, but Nash said, "I don’t want to put any undue pressure, unrealistic expectations on him returning this season. My No. 1 concern with Spencer is long-term health. That is way more important than trying to rush him back for our self-interest."