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After too many close calls against the NBA’s worst teams, the Nets dialed up some long-distance shooting.

Kevin Durant, Joe Harris and Landry Shamet combined on nine 3-pointers in the first half Tuesday and the Nets expanded a 25-point second-quarter lead to as many as 42 during a matter-of-fact 127-97 rout of the Timberwolves in Minneapolis.

The star-studded Nets improved to 8-4 against the five teams in the league with fewer than 20 victories: The Cavaliers (0-2), Magic (2-1), Pistons (2-1), Rockets (2-0) and Timberwolves (2-0). That doesn’t tell the whole story, however, because three of those wins were by five or fewer points.

This was different. The Nets (37-17) blew the game open with a 16-1 run to start the second quarter and never looked back from a 49-26 lead.

Durant scored 31 points on 11-for-15 shooting, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range, in 27 minutes. Harris and Shamet added 23 and 19 points, respectively, and both drained five 3s. It was Shamet’s fifth game this season with at least five 3s off the bench, one shy of a Nets’ record. Harris now has three of the five highest single-season 3-point totals in franchise history.

Ten different players had assists as the Nets helped out on 31 of their 46 field goals.

Star power was missing from the game. The Nets played without James Harden (hamstring strain) and Kyrie Irving (personal reasons) and the Timberwolves (14-41) played without Karl-Anthony Towns, who was excused to be with family on the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death due to COVID-19. This was the Nets’ first game with Durant as the only active member of their Big 3.

DeAndre Jordan, who went from starting at center in 36 of the Nets’ first 48 games to not playing at all in the previous five games, returned to the rotation because LaMarcus Aldridge also missed the game with a non-COVID-19 illness. Jordan had five dunks, including one off a long outlet pass from Blake Griffin — the old Clippers connection — and one on a spectacular alley-oop thrown on a baseline drive by Durant.

In his third game since returning from a two-month absence due to a hamstring strain, Durant remained on the floor even with the Nets ahead by 30 at the start of the fourth quarter. It was just the eighth lead of 30 or more points after three quarters in Nets history, and the first since 2017. The onslaught continued as the margin increased to 40 before the next two minutes ticked off the clock.

The Nets are trying to build up Durant’s stamina before the playoffs. 

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