Big scorers face off as Nets host Wizards

While Kevin Durant needed 39 minutes to score a season-high 45 points on Monday, Kristaps Porzingis produced a career-high 41 points and required only 31 minutes.

Those players who are coming off big games will oppose each other when Durant’s Brooklyn Nets host Porzingis’ Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

Durant is coming off his eighth 40-point game with the Nets and 63rd of his career on Monday when the Nets recorded a 109-102 victory over the Orlando Magic.

Durant’s big game gave the Nets a second straight win on their season-high seven-game homestand, a fifth win in seven games and a fourth straight home win.

Durant made 19 of 24 shots from the field, resulting in a season-high 79.2 shooting percentage. He was 8-of-9 shooting in the third quarter, when he scored 19 points, and then added nine points in the fourth to help fend off the Magic.

“He just keeps going,” Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said of Durant, 34. “At this stage in (the) age of his career, I mean the minutes he played, what he did last night to lead us into a win is huge. I think it shows the preparation that he puts into his body, what he feels about the game. He approaches it like we have to win this game.”

Because of their slow start to the season, the Nets often possess a must-win mentality. Before Monday, Durant’s previous season-high scoring was 37 — twice — but Brooklyn lost both times as part of its 1-5 start. His 45-point showing moved Brooklyn to 11-11, marking the second time it has reached the .500 mark. The last time was at 1-1.

“We got so close,” Durant said. “Definitely was motivated to come out here on our home floor to get back to .500. I think every game we play at home is so important because we want to keep our fans engaged and keep them supporting us.”

Durant’s big night occurred as the Nets lost Ben Simmons to a sore left knee early in the second quarter. Simmons missed four games (Oct. 31-Nov. 5) with the same ailment and could be out Wednesday.

Washington is 7-4 in its past 11 games and is coming off its best offensive showing of the season when it snapped a three-game losing streak by shooting 57.1 percent and hitting 15 3-pointers in a 142-127 victory over the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

Porzingis produced his second career 40-point game and first since Nov. 5, 2017, for the New York Knicks against Indiana. He scored 29 in the first half and shot 12 of 18 from the field during a game in which Washington never trailed and led by as many as 28.

“It’s always fun when you can get somebody a career night,” Washington’s Kyle Kuzma said. “It’s very, very hard to play in this league; it’s very hard to do anything in this league. Any time a player can have a career high, it means a lot to them, and as a player, you understand how much it means.”

Kuzma added 23 while Bradley Beal contributed 22 Monday. Beal also hit 9 of 14 from the field and is shooting 54 percent in six games since returning from missing five in the health and safety protocol.

Brooklyn won the first meeting this season 128-86 on Nov. 4 in Washington when it shot 55.6 percent from the field. Durant scored 28 and Porzingis was held to 14.