Durant, Irving carry Nets in opener after Harden hurt

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Milwaukee Bucks forward P.J. Tucker defends against a shot by Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant during the first half of Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series Saturday, June 5, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

NEW YORK – Kevin Durant knew something was wrong when the Brooklyn Nets were trying to run a play and James Harden wasn't in the right spot.

Moments later, Harden wasn't even in the game, forced to leave with a right hamstring injury less than a minute into the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“That was tough,” Nets coach Steve Nash said.

Durant and Kyrie Irving made sure it wasn't a knockout blow.

Durant scored 29 points, Irving had 25 and the two superstars carried Brooklyn to a 115-107 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night in Game 1.

Harden's injury is the same one that forced him to miss two losses to the Bucks in May.

But the Nets beat Milwaukee when it mattered most without him, getting 19 points from Joe Harris and 18 points and 14 rebounds from Blake Griffin.

“We try not to be too emotional out there, but losing one of your leaders like that on the first play of the game, we had to regroup for a couple of minutes and figure out what was next, but I think the coaches, the coaching staff did a great job of moving forward," Durant said. "Guys came in and just tried to play extremely hard. We didn’t care about anything else but playing and executing the game plan and just leaving it all out there.”