Nets’ Kevin Durant passes back-to-back test with flying colors

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For the first time since picking Brooklyn over Manhattan and the Nets over the Knicks a year-and-a-half ago, Kevin Durant played the team he spurned. And he reminded them what they missed out on.

His medicals looked just fine in leading a threadbare Nets roster to a 116-109 victory over the Knicks at the Garden.

With the Nets were playing with just nine men thanks to Kyrie Irving’s personal leave and their trade for three-time scoring champion James Harden, Durant, a four-time scoring champ, came up huge. He had a team-high 26 points, hitting 3 of 5 from behind the 3-point arc, and added six assists and two blocks.

“It was a good win,” Durant said. “Especially we talked about it last night, we want to finish the second half for the back-to-back, especially with a team that’s right across the bridge from us.

“The mecca of basketball, the Garden, and for them not to have fans especially with this rivalry and how much tension between both teams, amongst both teams fan bases, definitely missed the fans out there. … It’s just the fact that this is about New York City right now. Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks is always going to be a good draw. It’s a good start for us.”

Kevin Durant looks to make a move on Julius Randle during the Nets' 116-109 victory over the Knicks.
Kevin Durant looks to make a move on Julius Randle during the Nets’ 116-109 victory over the Knicks.
AP

It was also a major milestone in Durant’s comeback, as he played his first back-to-back since returning from his ruptured Achilles.

“Yeah, most definitely. I want to see how my body felt this morning, how I felt after the game last night,” he said. “And I was just trying to monitor everything leading up into the game, obviously, throughout the game, and I felt good. So hopefully, I know I keep building on it and as the season goes along, I continue to keep getting stronger and more used to the game again, the schedule, the travel, everything. So this was a good step.”

That injury — sustained playing for the Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals — had left the Knicks leery about Durant. ESPN claimed owner James Dolan wasn’t prepared to offer him a maximum contract, while The Post reported they would proceed cautiously and wanted to see his medical records.

Durant checked out fine Wednesday. He topped 25 points for the eighth straight game, tying a Nets team record held by Bernard King in 1978-79.

“He looked good to me,” Nets coach Steve Nash said with a Cheshire Cat grin.

“It’s another marker for him that builds his confidence and continues to build that adaptation process to the demands of the game. … I can’t stress it enough, five games in seven nights and basically playing four games a week, it is something you have to be very careful with and manage for everybody, let alone Kevin, who is coming off a career-threatening injury.”

The Nets, clinging to a 46-43 lead with 4:37 left in the second quarter, closed on a 15-2 run to take a 16-point cushion into the locker room.

And when the Knicks tried to wrest it back in the third, Durant killed off the game. He poured in a dozen in the period to never let the Nets lose momentum.

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