INDIANAPOLIS — The Nets team that beat the Pacers on Saturday night was a largely unrecognizable group.
The one that will play Monday in Washington will look a lot more familiar.
Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, Seth Curry and T.J. Warren all sat out against the Pacers for rest or load management. Two other Nets — Kyrie Irving (left adductor tightness) and Nic Claxton (right hamstring tightness) — were injured, and Royce O’Neale was out for personal reasons.
That’s eight rotation players, including the team’s top six. But after the Nets gutted out a surprising 136-133 win, all of the missing players are expected to be back against the Wizards except for O’Neale, who did not travel with the team.
“Everyone else, we expect them to be locked and loaded and ready to go in D.C.,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “Nic as well.”
Durant’s workload has been a concern for the Nets. He came into Saturday leading the league in minutes played at 994, while O’Neale was second with 971. To maximize Durant’s rest, the star didn’t fly to Indiana and will join the team in Washington.
Edmond Sumner had a season-high 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists in his first game against the Pacers since they traded him to the Nets (who waived him) in October 2021. He was injured and missed the Oct. 29 meeting at Barclays Center and the Nov. 20 trip to Indiana.
The athletic guard, who is coming back from surgery on a torn left Achilles tendon and was re-signed by the Nets this summer, had 14 points in the first quarter, slapping the floor after a big play.
“I was excited to play back in here. I haven’t played here in a while. It was bittersweet because I was injured,” Sumner said. “I was excited to play. I mean, it’s all love here. I don’t have any animosity here. But I’m a competitor, so I wanted to come on to compete.
“Obviously, I didn’t get a chance to play last time we played them here. So definitely I was excited. I got to sleep in my own bed last night. So I mean, I felt like home, I’m not gonna lie.”
Cam Thomas scored a career-high 33 points, 21 of them in the fourth quarter.
The Nets, the worst rebounding team in the league, benefitted from starting bruiser Day’Ron Sharpe and Markieff Morris. They had a 29-7 edge over the Pacers in offensive rebounds. That’s the most by any team in a game this season and the most by the Nets since they had 30 in Jan. 19, 1998 against San Antonio.
Sharpe tied a career high with 20 points and Patty Mills scored a season-high 24 points. Morris’ 15 points and 11 boards were both season highs and his first double-double since April 17, 2021 with the Lakers against Utah.
Yuta Watanabe returned after missing 10 straight games with a right hamstring strain. He had 10 points and seven rebounds.
- Nets expected to be back at near full strength for Wizards game
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