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Through the Lens: Kevin Durant Takes His Turn at 50

Durant scores 53 on 19-of-37 shooting against Knicks

Here’s Kevin Durant in five games since returning to the court after missing 21 games and nearly two months with a knee sprain:

  • 31 against Miami
  • 37 against Boston
  • 14 against Charlotte
  • 25 against Philadelphia
  • 53 against New York

That’s 32.0 points per game for Durant over the last 10 days. Against the Knicks, with Seth Curry a late scratch and Kyrie Irving unable to play home games, Durant played 43 of 48 minutes while leading the Nets to their third straight win. “We had too many lineups without a shooter on the floor just makes it so difficult to score so we rode Kevin a lot tonight,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “We needed all of it for the win.”

A week ago, Durant became the 23rd player in NBA history to surpass 25,000 career points, prompting Irving to describe him as a “savant” and an “artist.” With Sunday’s outburst in the 110-107 win against the Knicks, Durant is up to 25,096 points, just 97 behind No. 22 Jerry West (25,192) and No. 21. Reggie Miller (25,279).

Against the Knicks, Durant started fast with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the first quarter. He had 27 by halftime. “I don’t really pre-determine what I’m gonna do out there,” said Durant. “I just 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 Ky, missing Seth, missing LaMarcus, so I felt like we started the game off fast, but then they got hot as well. But I didn’t want us to get stagnant on the offensive side of the ball, so I just put up a lot of shots tonight. Andre was good at rebounding a lot of ‘em for me and guys played off me today when they seen I had it going early, so they were looking for me pretty often. So I felt good as the game went on.”

Durant’s presence warps a defense all on its own, opening the floor for teammates. He had nine assists on Sunday. During a stretch where Bruce Brown scored eight straight Brooklyn points in the third quarter, Durant assisted on three of the four baskets. Durant had scored seven straight points immediately prior to Brown’s run, and he followed with a jumper that gave the Nets a nine-point lead. “It's hard to not watch,” said Brown. “They were sending three guys over and still he was just shooting right over them. That man's insane. He makes everything look easy out there.”

Andre Drummond has been Durant’s teammate for a month after a mid-February trade. Sunday’s game was their fifth playing together. Drummond had a big game, with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He knows No. 7 was the show. “It's fun to watch,” said Drummond. “It's fun to watch and fun to be a part of. He’s the best player in the world. It's real cool for me just to be a part of this and to watch him be great.”

With under a minute to go, the game tied at 103, and the Knicks’ defense operating with a single mission to deny Durant from beating them, he knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer from the right wing with 56.3 seconds to go. Durant then made four free throws in the final 10 seconds to seal the win.

Durant made 19-of-37 shots in putting up his second 50-point game of the season and added nine assists, six rebounds, and two steals. “You feel kind of at ease knowing that you can affect so many different plays and so many areas of the game with my skill set and I can affect my teammates and how they approach the game with my skill set so I just try to think about the big picture and seeing: I know I worked on my game and I’ve gotten to this point as an individual player, but I’m at a point in my career where I’m like, ‘How can I impact everybody out here? How can I make the other coaches think about their game plan?’ So I feel like I up the level of everybody out there on the floor, and that’s a good feeling to have.”

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