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Nets rout Sixers after huge NBA trade as Harden humbled

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving led the Brooklyn Nets to a blowout 129-100 victory over ex-teammate James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers in an NBA grudge match on Thursday.

Durant scored 25 points and had 14 rebounds and Irving added 24 points in the clash at Philadelphia, the first meeting of the clubs since their blockbuster NBA trade deadline deal last month sent Harden to the 76ers with Ben Simmons and Seth Curry going to Brooklyn in exchange.

A humbled Harden, swarmed by Nets defenders most of the night, managed only 11 points on 3-of-17 shooting and took a few bumps defensively from Durant. Brooklyn hit only 30-of-93 shots from the floor, a woeful 32.3%.

“We know this is a fast-paced team,” Durant said. “I thought we did a good job of running them. We slowed them down. It was hard for them to get into a rhythm.”

Curry scored 22 points for Brooklyn but Australian guard Simmons hasn’t played for the Nets with a sore back.

Simmons, who didn’t play for the 76ers this season over mental health issues, was greeted with a chorus of boos from Philadelphia fans when he walked onto the court with the Nets.

He was booed again sitting on the bench when he picked up a loose ball that went out of bounds, but lots of 76ers fans left early.

“He knew we had his back,” Durant said of Simmons. “But it felt good to quiet them down. We didn’t hear no more Ben Simmons chants at the end.”

Both Simmons and Harden wanted out of their situations and the swap by divisional rivals ensured they would see each other in the fight for Eastern Conference playoff position.

Brooklyn never trailed and set a season high with 15 blocked shots, dominating off the fast break and off turnovers. Brooklyn led 102-70 after three quarters, took the lead as large as 36 points and both benches were cleared for the final minutes.

The Nets dominated the first half, leading by as many as 24 points on the way to a 72-51 halftime advantage, scoring the most points allowed in a half by Philadelphia all season.

Brooklyn made a special effort to silence Harden and also frustrated Cameroon big man Joel Embiid, who had a game-high 27 points but went 5-of-17 from the floor.

The Nets improved to 34-33 while the 76ers fell to 40-25.

Harden’s 3-pointer in the first quarter pushed him into third on the all-time NBA 3-pointers list with 2,561.

Warriors beat Nuggets

Stephen Curry, who leads the all-time NBA 3-pointer list, became the 49th NBA player to reach the 20,000 career point milestone with a game-high 34 points to spark the Golden State Warriors to a 113-102 victory at Denver.

“Any accomplishment you do, whether it’s individual or a team, is special,” Curry said. “You work every day to keep getting better. Hopefully a lot more to come. It’s pretty special for sure.”

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 23 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, barely missing his 19th triple double of the season.

Curry scored 18 points in the third quarter to spark a Warriors rally for an 88-84 lead entering the fourth.

“We weren’t performing well on either end,” Denver coach Michael Malone said.

With the game level at 102-102, Curry sank a jumper to put Golden State ahead with 1:59 to play and Jordan Poole, who had 21 points, followed with back-to-back 3-pointers to seal Denver’s fate.

“They left JP open twice and he made them pay,” Curry said. “We’re trending in the right direction.”

The Nuggets didn’t score in the final 4:40 of the contest as Golden State closed on a 13-0 run.

The Warriors, who had lost seven of their prior nine games, matched Memphis for second in the Western Conference at 45-22.

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