LOS ANGELES (AFP): Kevin Durant extended his 25-point scoring streak with a triple double as the Brooklyn Nets launched Jacque Vaughn’s reign as head coach with a 112-85 rout of the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
Durant gave Brooklyn’s fans some respite from recent off-court drama with a superb performance, scoring 29 points with 12 rebounds and 12 assists in a wire-to-wire victory at the Barclays Center.
The 34-year-old has now scored at least 25 points in each of Brooklyn’s 12 games since the start of the season — the longest streak since Michael Jordan opened the 1988-1989 campaign with 16 games scoring 25 points or more per game.
More significantly, Durant’s latest dominant performance ensured a smooth start to Vaughn’s tenure as head coach.
Vaughn took over as interim last week after the sacking of Steve Nash, but was only confirmed as the permanent replacement earlier on Wednesday.
“I just liked how we were all on the same page,” Durant told ESPN after the win.
“I’m only as good as my teammates so them setting me up, helping me out on defense, helping me rebound — it’s a team effort helping to get me going.
Durant was also happy to have helped deliver a win for Vaughn that saw the Nets improve to 5-7.
“He’s been around this group for a while, been around this organization for a while, so he understands us,” Durant said.
“I’m happy for him. It’s a huge deal to be an NBA coach. It’s on us to play extremely hard for him, and to practice well and to prepare well.
“It’s a good first start for him.”
As well as the dismissal of Nash last week, the Nets have also been buffeted by controversy surrounding Kyrie Irving, who was suspended by the club last week after posting a link to an anti-Semitic film on his social media.
In other games on Wednesday, Utah’s blistering start to the season continued with a 125-119 win over the Atlanta Hawks in Georgia.
The Hawks had gone into the game on a high after ending Milwaukee’s unbeaten start to the season in their previous game.
But Jazz star Lauri Markkanen put on a shooting clinic with 32 points while Jordan Clarkson added 23 as Utah improved to 10-3 to maintain their lead at the top of the Western Conference standings.
Markkanen’s exhibition of shooting included six buckets from three-point range and a perfect eight-from-eight from the free throw line.
Dejounte Murray led the Atlanta scorers with 26 points while the returning Trae Young had 22 points.
The Phoenix Suns remain in hot pursuit of Utah at the top of the Western Conference after romping to a 129-117 road win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Devin Booker’s 32-point haul and 31 from Mikal Bridges set up victory for Phoenix, who improved to 8-3 to remain second in the standings.
The Portland Trail Blazers are also on 8-3 in the West after sending the Charlotte Hornets to a sixth straight loss with a 105-95 win on the road on Wednesday.
Damian Lillard led the Pacers’ scoring with 26 points, six assists with seven rebounds.
The Denver Nuggets are level with Phoenix and Portland on 8-3 after their 122-119 win over the Indiana Pacers.
Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic led the Denver scoring with 24 points while Bennedict Mathurin topped the Pacers scorers with 30 points.
Elsewhere Wednesday, the Boston Celtics (8-3) were too strong for the 3-9 Detroit Pistons , cruising to a 128-112 win after 31 points from Jayson Tatum.