AFP/ Los Angeles
Kevin Durant finished with 49 points while playing every minute of the game as the Brooklyn Nets rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-108 in game five of their NBA playoff series on Tuesday.
Durant also had 17 rebounds and 10 assists as the Nets seized a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series. He took over in the second half for the Nets, who were behind by double digits for most of the game and by 17 with seven minutes to go in the third quarter. The Nets then went on a 17-5 run and Durant sealed it with a clutch three-pointer and four key free throws in the final two minutes.
Durant played all 48 minutes, shot 16-of-23 from the floor and finished just shy of his playoff career high of 50 points.
“I wasn’t planning on playing every minute but I told my coach that I felt good and let me ride it out,” Durant said.
Nets coach Steve Nash said this will go down as one of Durant’s “signature” games. “He played the entire game and he barely missed,” said Nash. “It is ridiculous what he is able to do. To do it on a night like this when we are down bodies and we are wounded. This is what makes him one of the all-time greats. This is a signature performance.”
Brooklyn now has a chance of closing the series out on Thursday in Milwaukee where the Bucks are on a lengthy winning streak. Game seven, if necessary, would be Saturday in Brooklyn.
Durant set a franchise record for points in a playoff game, breaking the mark of 43 set by Vince Carter 15 years ago.
He also posted his second career postseason triple-double and joined Hall of Famers Oscar Robertson, Charles Barkley and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic as the fourth player with at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game. “He is the best player in the world right now,” said Bucks all-star Giannis Antetokounmpo. “We got to beat him as a team. We got to keep doing our jobs and hopefully he is going to miss.”
The Nets have jackhammered their way through the NBA postseason despite playing for much of the playoffs and the regular season without their “Big Three” of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden on the floor at the same.
The Nets were pretty much down to Durant Tuesday night as Irving got injured in the previous game and even though Harden dressed he was largely ineffective, scoring just five points on one-of-10 shooting. It was Harden’s first game back after missing almost all of the first four games of the series with a tight hamstring.
Brooklyn has declined to announce the severity of Irving’s ankle injury but he has been seen on crutches and with a walking boot. Jeff Green scored 27 points, and Blake Griffin chipped in 17 for the Nets.
Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 12 rebounds, while Khris Middleton added 25 points for the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo unanimously voted to first team All-NBA
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and league MVP Nikola Jokic were named to the All-NBA first team, the league announced on Tuesday. Former two-time league MVP Antetokounmpo, of the Milwaukee Bucks, earned his third straight selection and was the only player to receive first team votes on all 100 ballots. Denver Nuggets center Jokic received 99 first team votes and Dallas Mavericks’ Doncic had 55.
Doncic is the first player to make the first team at least twice in his first three NBA seasons since Tim Duncan did it in the late 1990s.
Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard of the Los Angeles Clippers were also named to the team as guards. Curry was voted in for the fourth straight year and Leonard for the third consecutive time. The 2020-21 second team consists of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Philadelphia 76ers centre Joel Embiid, Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul, New York Knicks forward Julius Randle and Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.
The third team comprised guards Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets) and Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), forwards Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat) and Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers) and center Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz).
It marked the first career All-NBA selections for Randle and Beal. James notched his 17th All-NBA selection and Paul earned his 10th. The teams were selected by a global panel of 100 members of the news media.
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