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Kevin Durant’s Nets-high 53-point classic leads Brooklyn past Knicks, 110-107

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New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

It was another Kevin Durant classic on Sunday afternoon. Brooklyn’s superstar scored 53 points, his high as a Brooklyn Net, and his team needed every single point to get the job done.

And it was done in full view of Kyrie Irving who although he couldn’t play, sat courtside in his family’s seats along with his wife and sister. Irving has been at Barclays Center Saturday night as well to watch the ACC Tournament Finals.

“I don’t really like to predetermine what I’m going to do out there. I go with the flow and do what’s required of me out there. I felt like tonight we were shorthanded a bit in the scoring department missing Kai [Kyrie Irving], missing Seth [Curry], missing LaMarcus [Aldridge], so I felt like we started the game off fast but they got hot as well. I didn’t want us to get stagnant on the offensive side of the ball so I just put up a lot of shots,” said Durant with a smile after his 53-point performance. “I felt good as the game went on.”

As far as his minutes vs. New York (43) and going forward, Durant said this... “Let me die out there. I told you already.”

And so, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the New York Knicks, 110-107, at Barclays Center. With their third-straight win, the Nets improve to 35-33 on the year and 14-18 at home. The winning streak against the Knicks extends to six games and grows their season-series lead to 3-0. All-time, the Nets now hold a two-game advantage over their cross-river rivals.

Durant needed to carry a heavier scoring load at home, and he delivered in typical KD fashion. The 53 points were also a team season-high and came within four points of Deron Williams all-time record of 57 and within one point of his career high. He grabbed six rebounds, handed out nine assists, and recorded two steals in a team-high 43 minutes of play.

“Kevin was unbelievable. Obviously, he carried us He made a lot of big plays: rebounds, assists, the whole deal,” said the Nets head coach on Durant’s performance. “He was Kevin Durant on full display.”

His classic performance had his teammates in awe throughout the contest with the temptation to just watch him score at ease.

“It’s fun to watch. It’s fun to watch and fun to be a part of. He’s the best player in the world,” said Drummond on Durant’s 53-point performance. “It’s real cool to be a part of this and to watch him be great.”

“It’s hard not to watch. They sent three guys over at him, he was still shooting right over them. That man’s insane,” Bruce Brown said. “He makes everything look easy out there.”

Post-game, Durant sought out Irving on the sidelines and the two hugged, a prelude to KD’s post game comments on the private sector mandate that’s keeping his teammate off the court.

The Knicks knotted up the game with three minutes left in the fourth and the contest came down to the final minute. New York sent two players at Durant for the majority of the fourth and when he finally found some space, he drilled a 26-foot right-wing three to put Brooklyn up 106-103 with 56.3 seconds left. Julius Randle answered with an uncontested layup on the other end to trim the deficit to a single point, but the Nets got the biggest stop when it mattered.

Out of an inbounds play for New York, Brown forced Evan Fournier to throw up a tough shot and grabbed a big defensive rebound. Brooklyn successfully inbounded the ball on the other side of the court and Durant eventually went to the foul line to seal the win. The Nets superstar connected on both free throws to make it a three-point lead (108-105) and tie his Nets record of 51. James Johnson intentionally fouled RJ Barrett to avoid a 3-point attempt with 2.6 seconds left on the game clock. Instead of missing the second free throw, Barrett nailed it to cut the deficit to 108-107. Durant followed it up with a pair of free throws giving him 53 and the Knicks couldn’t get a shot off with their last slim hope.

“I thought the guys found a way. When you find a way to win when you can’t make a three, I think it’s always a good win,” said Steve Nash after the 110-107 win. “We didn’t have our best stuff. We didn’t make shots but we found a way to hold them to 47 in the second half. Proud of the effort. Proud of the mentality to stick with it even when things weren’t easy.”

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Outside of Durant, only three other Nets finished in double-figures. Andre Drummond collected his fourth double-double as a Net (18 points and 10 boards) in 27 minutes. Brown had another strong all-around outing with 15 points, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals, and only one turnover in 41 minutes. Nic Claxton strung together an impactful performance off the bench with 10 points, five rebounds, an assist, two steals, and one block in 21 minutes.

“You got to tip your hat to all the other guys that did so many things out there,” Nash said. “Andre had another big night. I thought Nic Claxton was great with his energy and defense. Bruce Brown continues his great play. JJ [James Johnson] brought it and gave us minutes. Goran [Dragic] was just a soldier out there organizing us and doing all the little things. I can go on but it was a team win. Kevin carried us in a lot of ways but without those other guys, it’s not happening.”

For the Knicks, three players finished with 20+ points: Randle (26), Fournier (25), and Barrett (24). With the defeat, New York falls to 28-40 on the season and is winless against Brooklyn this season.

The Nets started their league-high 38th different starting lineup against the Knicks: Dragic, Mills, Durant, Brown, and Drummond. Curry was slated to start but in the minutes before tipoff, he went from starter to “questionable” to “out.” due to left ankle soreness. Nash disclosed Curry is dealing with an ankle/calf injury and due to the game being an early tip time, the guard wasn’t able to go by tipoff.

Brooklyn opened the contest on an 11-0 run behind the offensive play of Durant and Brown. New York answered with a 10-3 burst to get back into the game out of their first timeout. The first six minutes turned into a scoring duel between Durant and Evan Fournier (12 points in the first) that resulted in the Nets taking a 28-24 lead with 3:29 left. The scoring simmered for both teams and after one, Brooklyn took a 35-30 lead after one behind an effortless-looking 16-point quarter from Durant.

The young-legged Knicks played faster and got to the cup to start the second. That succeeded and translated to an 8-2 burst to take their first lead in the opening minutes of the quarter. While both teams were going back and forth, Irving entered Barclays Center and walked to his courtside seats with roughly four minutes left in the frame, which the crowd gave a shattered cheer to.

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

At halftime, Brooklyn led New York, 62-60. Durant scored a game-high 27 points at the break which also marked the most points he scored in through two quarters in his Nets tenure. Drummond gathered a near double-double of 13 points and seven boards. There were three Knicks in double-figures at the half — RJ Barrett (15), Fournier (14), and Randle (11).

Durant continued to score effortlessly in the third. After a long back and forth, Brooklyn forged an 11-2 run to gain an 82-75 lead with a little over five minutes remaining in the quarter. That was the biggest separation the team found in the frame. New York picked apart Brooklyn’s defense, burning switches to get open looks on the perimeter and to the basket. Durant’s 40 points through three-quarters of play led the Nets to a five-point lead (88-83) with three-quarters of play in the books.

The contest came down to the final seconds, but Brooklyn held on to escape with the win. Durant was doubled for the majority of the fourth and when he finally found some space, he nailed a 26-foot right-wing three to put Brooklyn up 106-103 with 56.3 seconds left. Later in the final minute, Brooklyn came up with a key stop and was able to hit their free throws to escape with the three-point win over their crosstown rival.

Milestone Watch

To recap, Kevin Durant’s 53 points were

  • His season high, having scored 51 on December 12;
  • The Nets season high, beating out Kyrie Irving’s 50 points, recorded three days earlier;
  • One point shy of his career high for a single game, 54, on January 17, 2014 when he was with the Thunder;
  • Three points shy of the most points scores in a 2021-22 regular season game. LeBron James, a week ago, and Trae Young on January 4;
  • Four points shy of the Nets franchise record for a single game, 57 by Deron Williams on March 12, 2012, and one point shy of the Brooklyn Nets record for a single game, 54, by Kyrie Irving on January 31, 2020;
  • The highest-scoring game for a Net against the Knicks all-time, nine points more than John Williams scored vs. New York on February 12, 1978. (The record for a Knick vs. Nets is 60 by Bernard King on Christmas Day, 1984, a game the Nets won;)

The Nets now lead the Knicks, 109-106, all-time in NBA games, 104-101 in regular season and 5-5 in the playoffs. The Nets have now won six straight, the second longest winning streak in the rivalry. In the Jason Kidd era, the Nets won 11 straight.

“Trop petit”

Kevin Durant’s rep as an on-court troll is well established but he may have hit a new — and very high — level Sunday when after knocking down a mid-range against Evan Fournier, he rubbed it in ... in Fournier’s native language...

Yeah, he did.

As Sponge Bob might say...

What’s next

Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Nets will return to action on Tuesday, March 15 when the team travels to Orlando to face the Magic. The game is slated to tip at 7:00 p.m. ET.

For a different perspective on Sunday’s game, check out Posting and Toasting — our sister site covering the Knicks.