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Kevin Durant’s near triple-double carries Nets over Nuggets, 122-116

Denver Nuggets v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

As Bruce Brown said of Kevin Durant after the Nets win over the Nuggets, “that man is different.”

Led by Durant’s huge game, the Nets escaped Barclays Center with a huge win, defeating the Nuggets, 122-116. With the win, Brooklyn improves to 6-6 on the season while Denver falls to 5-6 on the season. The Nets have won five of their last six meetings against the Nuggets.

“It was a great win. We needed it for our soul and lots have been thrown at us. A lot of new things,” Nash said following the win. “New group, new coaches, and I keep going over it. All the stuff we are facing this year. We’re happy with the performance. We came out tonight and weren’t great in the first half. We weren’t physical enough, lacked communication, and we asked them to compete in the second half to up the level physically, demand, compete, and win some little battles. That’s what they did and they got a victory. They deserved it for sticking with it and sticking together.”

The Nets had a very sloppy first half but followed with a third-quarter resurgence as Brooklyn piled on 36 points, heading to the final 12 minutes tied up at 90 with plenty of offense by both teams.

The game was knotted up in the final minutes of play as both teams looked for key stops but Durant took over. With the help of Durant’s pure shooting, Brooklyn pulled away late, leaving the Nuggets completely fazed.

Durant, once again, showed he was Kevin Durant - finishing with a near triple-double of 34 points, nine rebounds, and 13 assists in 36 minutes of play. KD also made more history.

Durant surpassed Elgin Baylor (23,149), Dwayne Wade (23,165), and Adrian Dantley (23,177) on the NBA’s all-time scorers list during the game, lifting him to 28th on that list. Earlier this season, he passed Jerry West in points per game for a career. His career average is now 27.0 per game.

“It’s definitely great to be in that category, that class of scorers,” said a humble Durant post-game. “There are so many great players that have played in this league. It’s always been my goal to be amongst the best and to experience what those guys have experienced. Dwayne Wade was a guy I played against and admired for so long. Three guys that I have followed, researched, did so much work on and emulated at certain points in my career. Those three guys are Hall of Fame players, so to be able to pass them on the list is pretty cool.”

Along with making league history, Durant now has seven straight games with 25 or more points - one shy of Bernard King (1977-78) for the longest streak in franchise history. Oh wait there's more - KD also has 28 or more points in seven straight games, breaking the tie with Derrick Coleman for the longest streak of 28+ points in consecutive games in Nets history.

Caris LeVert provided his own punch off the bench, finishing the win with 20 points, five rebounds, and six assists in 26 minutes of play.

Joe Harris pulled together a solid performance of 15 points, three rebounds, and four assists in 31 minutes. Harris finished the win shooting 6-of-9 overall and 3-of-5- from deep.

Along with Harris, Bruce Brown, who got the start after a five-minute showing in Sunday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, contributed 16 points, six rebounds, and three assists in 26 minutes of play.

“Bruce was great. Unbelievable and played his butt off, played hard, made some tough shots, timely baskets, and guarded his man,” Nash said on Brown’s performance.

The Nets finished the win shooting 60.8 percent overall and 50.0 percent from deep. The 60 percent shooting by the Nets is the most the Nuggets have allowed in over a decade.

As for the Nuggets, the Nets struggled all game to find an answer for Will Barton, who had the hot hand. Barton finished with 22 points on 6-8 shooting from deep. Along with Barton, Nikola Jokic recorded a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds in 34 minutes of play.

Film Room

After the first half of action, the Nets had allowed 142 total points in its last four quarters of play. The defense has been B.A.D.

Even the Nuggets social team couldn’t help but poke fun at the Nets inability to guard anyone. You can feel the disappointment in that “Come on.”

But then Bruce Brown happened.

What makes Bruce such a special player, especially for this Nets team, is that he showcases a dogged mentality to get about 10-feet up opponents' jerseys. Brown spearheaded the Brooklyn Nets masterful second-half run with defense––yes, defense! In Brooklyn!

Caris LeVert gave credit where credit was due to Brooklyn’s breakout Bruce.

“Bruce was great. Bruce was great tonight. He’s just another guy that just wants to win. He plays extremely hard on both ends of the floor. Made some huge buckets down the stretch, two big floaters. Got some big rebounds. Played tough defense all night on Jamal Murray. That’s what we’re going to need from him. And that’s what he brings to the table.”

We asked Bruce to detail his strategy against Jamal Murray, a breakout star in the Orlando “bubble.” Here’s what he had to say...

“I just tried to make it difficult. Contest every shot. He likes to drive right. When he goes up, he likes to pull-up into that stepback. And I have to stay down on those pump fakes. He got me with one! But yeah, just know tendencies, know what he likes to do towards the end of the game, and be physical.”

When he gives you production on the other side of the floor, well, that’s when it really gets fun.

While his three-point shot is still a work in progress, Bruce has busted out a nifty push shot at the forefront of his offensive repertoire. He’s so confident in that shot, he launched that high-arcing floater in the final minutes of the game.

“Bruce Brown was incredible, man. Jeez,” said Kevin Durant in disbelief. “Floaters were timely. Playing within the pick-and-roll. Picking up full court. I’m just so proud of that dude. True Pro. He hasn’t played at all and comes into the starting lineup and makes an impact.”

Another diamond in the rough find by Sean Marks.

No DeAndre Jordan against Denver

DeAndre Jordan’s minutes have been all over the place this season. In some games he’s a starter; others he’s a reserve. Some games he closes; sometimes he watches fellow center, Jarrett Allen, take care of business from the sidelines.

However, against the Nuggets, DJ didn’t see any minutes. Not one! Jarrett Allen was Steve Nash’s starting option at opening tip, and the rookie coach went with Jeff Green as a small-ball 5 with the reserves. This has been a trend for Jordan; he’s seen his minutes fall from 18 minutes against Philadelphia to 17 against Memphis to 10 against Oklahoma City to now 0 on Tuesday Night against the Nugs.

It’s something to monitor, at the very least.

Steve Nash hopes Kevin Durant plays Wednesday while KD plans to play

Kevin Durant did not play the second game of the Nets’ first back-to-back of the season. With the Nets having the first game of their second back-to-back in the books, Steve Nash is hoping Durant will play tomorrow against the New York Knicks. Although hoping for him to play, Nash wanted to weigh Tuesday’s game before making the decision to play Wednesday.

“I really hope Kevin plays tomorrow,” Nash said with a smile in a laughing manner prior to Tuesday’s game. “We will see. We have to judge these things day to day and moment to moment. I can come in here with a template but who knows what happens tonight. We have to be really fluid and adaptable like I continually say and see how tonight goes then address tomorrow when it comes.”

While Nash was planning on judging Tuesday’s game before making the decision to either play or rest Durant for Wednesday’s game against the Knicks, Durant says he plans on playing.

“I plan on it, yeah.”

Caris LeVert to serve as leader of second unit as Nash will ‘continue to adapt continually this year.’

Following the win, Steve Nash was proud of Caris LeVert for his performance off the bench. Looking forward, Nash wants to protect LeVert from playing high minutes consistently due to his injury history. The 46-year-old head coach thinks the second unit will need LeVert as their main ball-handler and creator.

“I think the second unit needs Caris as a ball-handler and creator,” Nash said on LeVert coming off the bench and being the leader of the second unit. “I also need to protect Caris. When he starts, he ends up playing 30+ minutes almost without a doubt. Caris is the guy you have to protect with his injury history a little bit. He is in great shape and he may never have a problem again but you have to protect him and give him a chance ... I’m proud of Caris and he was outstanding as well.”

There is no secret Nash and the Nets want to remain fluid with rotations and minutes as the season progresses. Same follow with LeVert coming off the bench.

“We are going to continue to adapt continually this year,” Nash said about roles and rotations. “Who knows what’s around the corner.”

When asked about his coach’s comments, LeVert said if it results in winning games, he is all for it.

“For me, I just want to win,” LeVert said about coming off the bench. “Steve knows that and my teammates have known that. That is the main important thing for me. I don't really care about all that other stuff. That doesn’t really matter to me. I just care about winning. Tonight we got it done and I came off the bench and it is what it is.”

Where’s Kyrie?

With the Nets-Nuggets game underway, Irving was spotted on a Zoom call inaugurating the Manhattan attorney general campaign for Tahanie Aboushi.

As the time stamp on the tweet shows, the Zoom call was going on during the Nets-Nuggets game.

What’s next

The Nets will travel across the Brooklyn Bridge and through Manhattan to take on the New York Knicks at The Garden Wednesday. The game is set to tip-off at 7:30 ET and will be broadcast on ESPN.

For a different perspective, head on over to Denver Stiffs, our sister site on SB Nation.