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Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving combine for 81 in 124-121 Nets win over Pistons

Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

Six-straight wins. Keep ‘em coming, Brooklyn!

The Brooklyn Nets completed their largest comeback victory of the season, down by as many as 19 points, and beat the Detroit Pistons 124-121 for the 19th win of the season. As mentioned, the Nets have won six straight games and 10 of their last 11 contests.

Kyrie Irving (38 points) and Kevin Durant (43 points) were exceptional, combining for 81 points on Sunday evening. This was the sixth time that both Durant and Irving have each gone for 35+ points in the same game since becoming teammates in 2019.

Detroit, meanwhile, was led by former Net Bojan Bogdanovic, who put up 26 points. Rookie Jaden Ivy also had a nice showing, dropping 19 points and two huge dunks, one of which was a poster on Yuta Watanabe.

Despite a slow start, the Nets finished the game with some blistering percentages: 55% from the field, 51.7% from three and 91.3% at the line. Detroit wasn’t too shabby, either, making 47.7% of their total shots. Though the Pistons won slightly in the rebounding battle, 41-35, that discrepancy didn’t doom the Nets. That’s always a win for Brooklyn, one of the worst teams in the league at cleaning the glass.

As mentioned, the Nets did not begin the contest with the right amount of energy. Detroit leapt out to an early 14-4 lead behind 8 early points from Bogdanovic. Brooklyn, meanwhile, couldn’t find any sort of rhythm from the field; Royce O’Neale took (and missed) a floater and Yuta Watanabe badly whiffed a bank shot from the midrange. Things were going so poorly for the Nets that Watanabe got a nasty poster dunk from Jaden Ivy thrown down on his head. The Pistons finished the first quarter ahead, 35-21.

Brooklyn started to find some rhythm in the second quarter; O’Neale, Joe Harris, and Seth Curry all hit three-pointers to get the sluggish offense out of the mud. Meanwhile, the Pistons kept it rolling behind post-ups from Marvin Bagley III and isolations from Saddiq Bey for 20 combined points off the bench. The Pistons then closed the half on a 14-8 run to finish the half with 71 points to the Nets’ 54.

The Nets finally began to weather the storm, beginning the third on a 15-7 run. Brooklyn kept chipping away. They went on another run in the final three minutes, this time a 12-0 one. In the final 30 seconds of the third, Kevin Durant splashed three-straight pull-up threes. Behind Durant’s 26 points (!!) in the quarter, Brooklyn miraculously entered the fourth up, 98-96.

Here they are, all 26 of them, including the 20 in the last 3:18. Enjoy...

The fourth quarter was Kyrie’s time to cook, as it was vs. the Raptors two nights earlier. He dropped 10 points in the first six minutes of play. The next five minutes, however, were not as efficient from an execution standpoint. Detroit went without a field goal for a full five minutes, while the Nets went just 2-of-8 in that same time frame as the PIstons threw a variety of double-teams at KD and Kyrie. The Pistons finally broke their scoring drought when Bogdanovic hit a massive 3-pointer on the other end to cut Brooklyn’s lead to one.

Then, Irving drew contact on stepback three with 30 seconds to spare; and yet, with the opportunity to put the Pistons down by four, he went just 2-of-3 from the line. Detroit was able to get two points off an Alec Burks layup, but with just 11 seconds to spare, they had to play the foul game and sent Durant to the line, who went 2-of-2 in the clutch. In the final possession of the game, Bogdanovic got a look from three that was swiped away by Nic Claxton for his third block of the game...

... and Brooklyn officially completed its largest comeback of the season.

Milestone Watch

  • With his first six points tonight, Kevin Durant reached 26,400 career points. KD moved past John Havlicek (26,395) and Paul Pierce (26,397) into 16th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Next up: Tim Duncan (26,496).
  • Kevin Durant scored 26 of his game-high 39 points in the third quarter. The 26 points are the most points Durant has scored in any quarter in his NBA career (regular season or playoffs). Previous high: 25 points - fourth quarter - October 26, 2018 with Golden State at New York.
  • Of the 26, KD scored 20 in the last 3:18 of the quarter. He becomes the first player over the last 25 seasons to score 20 points in the final four minutes of any quarter.
  • KD and Kyrie are the first pair of teammates to each score 35+ Pts in the same game 3 times in a season since Durant & Russell Westbrook did so in 2011-12.
  • 1994-95 Penny Hardaway & Shaquille O’Neal are the only other pairing to do this in the last 30 years.
  • Kevin Durant has scored 40+ points in each of his last three games against Detroit, dating back to last season. Durant is the first player to score 40+ points in three straight games against the Pistons since San Francisco’s Rick Barry did so in the 1966-67 season.
  • The Nets’ two biggest comeback wins of the season have come in the last two games:

—Rallied from 18 points down to win at Toronto on Friday night.

—Rallied from 19 points down to win at Detroit tonight.

—Brooklyn is 19-12 (9-7 on the road).

The Nets have now come back from three double-digit deficits in their three games, having come back from 14 down vs. the Pacers.

Is KD as good as he’s ever been? Is he getting better?!?

It’s pretty wild when reporters are asking Kyrie, Jacque Vaughn and KD himself if this is his best stretch of Durant’s career and is he getting better ... and the questions are legitimate!!

“I just think mentally I understand the game a little bit more,” Durant said when asked. “I’m not too surprised by anything that’s thrown at me. I could say I’m on a different level mentality wise than I was as a younger player a few years ago. But I felt like I had some great stretches of basketball before, but this is pretty solid.

“I’m having fun, I’m knocking down some shots right now so I can’t compare, I try not to compare, but I feel mentally I’m getting better and I’m starting to understand the game on a different level than I did before.”

“The teams throw everything at him, so that piece of it, I think it warrants that conversation,” Jacque Vaughn said when asked the same question. “Just because at the end of the night — you look at the stat sheet and it’s an extremely efficient night ... You just see it in a variety of ways, which means his game is getting better still, which is pretty difficult to say but some truth behind it.”

“Numbers show,” Irving said, after scoring 38 points of his own. “When we’re out there it doesn’t necessarily feel like that because he makes it look so easy or he gets it in a myriad of ways — when he gets on stretches like this, you want to play well alongside of him, that’s really how I feel. I want to play well alongside him.”

Unfriendly reminder

As Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo! Sports tweeted during the game, the Pistons went there with Kyrie Irving during his free throw attempts...

...obvious references to Irving’s past controversies re his endorsement of the flat earth theory and publicizing of an anti-semitic video.

Illness and Injury update

Jacque Vaughn said he expects Patty Mills back and healthy on Wednesday vs. the Warriors. He said Mills’ non-COVID illness had been rough on him. T.J. Warren banged his knee in the second quarter and did not return. However, Vaughn said Warren is fine and could have returned if needed.

As Sponge Bob might say...

What’s next

The Nets head home to host the Golden State Warriors, who will be without Stephen Curry, on Wednesday. Coverage begins at 7:30 on NBA TV.

For a different perspective of tonight’s game, head to Detroit Bad Boys, our Pistons sister site.