Kevin Durant and James Harden, calm after increased minutes on the floor

DALLAS – Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant understands the concern about his increased minutes, given his long history of injuries that includes a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered two and a half years ago. You just don’t want to hear about it.

“I know people might be worried about my minutes and I got hurt before and all this extra shit, but we’ll figure it out,” Durant said after Brooklyn’s 102-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. “Right now, I want to play basketball.”

Durant played 40 minutes, 30 seconds in the victory at Dallas, including the entire second half, finishing with 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The 33-year-old Durant ranks in the NBA’s top 10 in minutes played this season, averaging 36.2 per game, his most since the 2013-14 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

James Harden, Durant’s 32-year-old co-star, also ranks in the top 10 in minutes at 35.9 per game. He played 41 minutes, 35 seconds in the victory over the Mavs, finishing with 23 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists.

“One thing about me and KD, we love to play basketball,” Harden said. “So it doesn’t matter. We could play all 48. Even if we’re exhausted. Coach says something, no. We want to stay in the game. We want to play.”

Harden had been remarkably resilient throughout his career until last season, when hamstring problems limited him to 44 games during the regular season. Another hamstring strain caused him to miss three games during the Eastern Conference semifinals and severely hampered the remainder of the series.

Durant was out of the game for the entire 2019-20 season while recovering from his Achilles tendon injury. A variety of injuries limited him to 27 games last season, but he was an ironman in the playoffs. He averaged 40.4 minutes during Brooklyn’s 12 postseason games, playing every second in two of the Nets’ last three games during the second-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, including a Game 7 overtime loss.

Durant, the NBA’s leading scorer at 28.4 points per game, has seen his playing time increase recently. He’s averaging 40.4 minutes during the East-leading Nets’ last five games.

“I think there is enough distance from injury that it makes us feel more confident,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “At the same time, we don’t love it. We can talk about improving throughout the year, but there is always the risk of overloading him and James as well. We have to be careful. I’m not sure if tomorrow is the day, but there will be times when the season in which we will have to be really smart and make tough decisions. “

Durant left no doubt that he would play in Game 2 on Wednesday against the Houston Rockets.

“M —, I could play 48 tomorrow. Just because,” Durant said, cracking a smile. “Give everyone something to talk about”