Kevin Durant still out for Nets as James Harden returns against Knicks

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Brooklyn will have to wait at least another game to see their Big 3 reunited.

James Harden is back from his sore hamstring and will be available to face the rival Knicks tonight at Barclays Center. But after Nets coach Steve Nash had left the door cracked open for a Kevin Durant return, the star forward has been ruled out and will miss a 23rd consecutive game.

“I’m not certain for Monday; that’s an outside possibility,” Nash had said earlier of Durant’s impending comeback. “But I also couldn’t say he’s by any stretch probable for Monday. We’ll wait and see. But it does look positive that this week some time there’s a high probability that he can return.”

Durant has not played since leading Brooklyn to a 17-point victory at Golden State back on Feb. 13 against his former team, sidelined with a left hamstring strain.

Tyler Johnson (right knee soreness), Landry Shamet (right ankle sprain) and Blake Griffin (left knee – injury management) are all also out tonight, in descending order of severity of injury.

Johnson’s right knee buckled and he went to the floor in Sunday’s loss at Chicago with a non-contact injury, which is always concerning. Shamet limped off the floor in only his second game back after having missed five straight with a sprain in that same ankle. Griffin is less worrisome than either guard, essentially being managed on the tail end of a back-to-back.

The return of Harden bodes well, after he’d missed the prior two games with a sore hamstring. But scans on the injury came up clean, and the Nets cautiously left him home from the Chicago trip to get him up to speed for tonight’s return.

Brooklyn is 26-7 when Harden plays, and 15-3 when he pairs with Kyrie Irving but not Durant, as will be the case tonight against the visiting Knicks.

Still, it is a blow to have to wait a little longer for Durant’s return, especially when the Nets had held out hope he could play tonight.

“I’m looking forward to it a lot, to see guys healthy, doing what they love,” said Jeff Green. “I hate seeing KD out, I hate to see James go down, I hate to see Tyler go down. I just want guys healthy. That’s a selfish part of me in seeing my teammates; I want them to have fun doing what they love.

“I don’t know what the deal with Tyler (is), but hopefully it’s nothing too serious and he’s out only a couple days. We’ll tell (Monday). But hopefully James plays (vs. the Knicks) and KD is back soon, just to see everybody healthy so we can try to get that chemistry going again.”

The Nets host the Pelicans Wednesday and Lakers on Saturday.

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