Kevin Durant scores 18 points in preseason debut as Nets top Bucks 119-115

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Kevin Durant pushes ball up the floor white uniform preseason Bucks
Kevin Durant pushes ball up the floor white uniform preseason Bucks

NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant and James Harden were on the court, so the Nets looked somewhat like the team Milwaukee remembers from its last trip to Brooklyn.

The players who helped the Bucks win that game just watched this one.

The Nets beat the Bucks 119-115 on Friday night in an exhibition rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals, which the Bucks won by outlasting the Nets in a Game 7 that went to overtime.

Durant scored 18 points and Joe Harris had 15 on five 3-pointers. Harden shot 3 for 9 and scored eight.

The teams will meet again Oct. 19 in Milwaukee in the NBA season opener and that’s when the Nets will see the real Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday all watched Friday’s game, along with Brook Lopez and key rotation players such as Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton.

Jordan Nwora scored 30 points for Milwaukee and Elijah Bryant had 21 points and eight rebounds.

The game in Brooklyn was one of two Game 7 rematches on Friday’s exhibition schedule. The Los Angeles Clippers played Dallas, the team they went the distance to beat in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

LeBron James and Russell Westbrook made their preseason debuts for the Lakers against Golden State, and Durant and Harden got their first game action for Brooklyn.

Kyrie Irving was ineligible to play but the Nets got good news about him. The team was told Friday that its training center is considered a private facility and doesn’t fall under New York’s coronavirus vaccination mandate. Professional athletes in the city must be vaccinated to play or practice in public venues.

Coach Steve Nash said Irving could join the team for practice this weekend, though wasn’t sure if the All-Star guard would play Monday at Philadelphia because he hasn’t practiced since they returned from training camp in San Diego last Sunday.

“At least he can practice, but I mean we want him here for the whole thing,” Durant said.

Paul Millsap didn’t play for the Nets because of health and safety protocols.