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Kevin Durant feeling good after layoff, but not quite back where he wants to be

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Kevin Durant is back to being Kevin Durant.

The Nets superstar made his return Thursday night in the Nets 110-102 loss to the Sixers Thursday night. Although Durant had some trouble finding the bottom of the Net early during his first game in 12 days, it didn’t take very long for the shots to fall and the league’s leading scorer to do what he’s best known for: score.

The 33-year-old superstar concluded his return with 33 points on 13-of-24 shooting from the field and 3-of-8 shooting from three-point range, along with six rebounds, four assists, a block and four turnovers in 38 minutes of play. Despite his shooting percentage being slightly lower than his season average (52.3 percent), his elite performance marked his 14th 30-point game of the season, tying him with LeBron James for the league lead.

“Great,” said Steve Nash on Durant’s play coming back from the health and safety protocols layoff. “He missed some shots we’re used to him making but as the game went on. He shot the ball very well. I thought overall, that’s pretty impressive after a break to play the way he did. I think for him, it’ll still take him a couple of games to get him back to his level.”

Similar to James Harden, who has shown flashes of his vintage MVP form since clearing health and safety protocols, Durant said the lengthy layoff hasn’t affected him despite not having access to a gym or the equipment to help him stay in basketball shape.

The 6’10” forward said he did nothing in quarantine, but credited the Nets’ training staff for helping him ramp up in the three days heading into Thursday’s loss, but the superstar added he’ll feel more like himself as he gets more games under his belt.

“Nothing. I don’t have a gym at the house. No, I really didn’t,” said Durant. “Once I was cleared to come back to the gym, the training staff did an incredible job with helping me ramp up, playing games, and a couple of workouts.

“I feel good. The next game it’ll be better. The game after that it’ll be better.”

Indeed, if the Nets superstar scores 34 points vs. the Clippers Saturday, he’ll be at 30 points a game average for the season. The last time he averaged better than 30 for a season was in 2013-14 when he averaged 32 and took home the MVP trophy.