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Nets Notes: Kevin Durant Elevates Brooklyn, Rises on the Scoring Lists

Durant goes for 34 points, 13 assists, and climbs a few notches among league's all-time scorers

It’s surely not the first time that Kevin Durant has left his own teammates amazed. But when it was over on Tuesday night, Bruce Brown — who had a pretty good, pretty clutch night on his own — was just left shaking his head.

“That man is different,” said Brown. “I think I stole rebounds and he didn’t get a triple-double. I didn’t even know. I would have let him get it. But that man’s different. He’s gonna come every night, and he’s just a walking bucket, he’s gonna do everything for us, and I’ve never seen a player like this before. He’s different.”

Durant did come up just the one rebound shy of a triple-double in an overwhelming display that carried the Brooklyn Nets back from an 18-point second-half deficit to a 122-116 win over the Denver Nuggets at Barclays Center.

He finished up with 34 points on 12-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, plus 13 assists and nine rebounds.

“It’s a pleasure to coach him,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “He’s so talented and loves the game. I thought he turned the ball over early, but he calmed down. I think that’s part of his process, of him coming back to playing, is that it’s not going to be smooth off the bat. I said early 15 to 20 games and I think that’s even, maybe I need to be more conservative with that number, just because it’s such a lot thrown at him, the climb he’s had back here.

“But he was unbelievable. Made the big shot at the end, had 13 assists. He led us, I think his attitude was great. There were moments from the first half where I could tell he was frustrated and he held on to it and it rubs off so positively on his teammates. They look up to him and they know how gifted he is and when he sticks with it and has that leadership qualities that he had tonight, the guys end up I think feeding off him and performing.”

Durant had 14 at the half, and the Nets needed that and Caris LeVert’s 18 just to stay within view of the Nuggets, who led 70-54 at halftime. In the third quarter, the Brooklyn offense took off as the Nets opened up the second half by making 12 of their first 13 shots to roar into the lead. Durant had 14 of Brooklyn’s 36 points in the quarter, plus four assists, while making all six of his shots.

They went into the fourth quarter tied, and then traded baskets down the stretch. Durant assisted on Brown’s basket that tied the game at 113, the start of a game-clinching 10-0 run. After Brown put Brooklyn in the lead, Durant scored the next six, including a dagger 3-pointer with 27.4 seconds to go.

“He makes everything easier,” said LeVert. “When Kevin is going like that, they’re going to start doubling and everything comes wide open for us. I think you saw that in the second half. He did a great job of moving the ball. I think he had 13 assists, and that just came from making the right play. It’s going to be like that. Kevin is going to get hot a lot of times. They’re going to send doubles at him, and we’ve got to be ready to make plays.”

Along the way, Durant passed three players on the NBA’s all-time scoring list — Elgin Baylor, Dwyane Wade, and Adrian Dantley — while moving into 28th place with 23,178 points. He’s also tied for fourth in scoring average with LeBron James with 27.04 points per game.

“It's definitely great to be in that category, that class of scorers,” said Durant. “So many great players have played in this league and it's always been my goal to be amongst the best and to experience what those guys experienced.”

“He’s going to keep climbing,” said Nash. “I’m sure he’s going to skyrocket all the way up there if we’re lucky to have good fortune and health. He is a walking bucket and he’s, no matter what you throw at him, no matter who’s on the floor, he’s going to find a way to get 25, 30 points. This is nothing. He’s going to keep climbing and keep catching guys. I don’t know where the next guy is, the guys ahead of him, but he’s going to catch a bunch of them, that’s for sure.”

Durant was following up his season-high 36 points on Sunday night, and he’s scored at least 28 points in seven of his eight games as a Net. He’s second in the league with 29.9 points per game and he’s shooting 53.5 percent from the field, 44.7 percent from 3-point range, and 86.5 percent from the line while averaging 7.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

After playing 38 minutes on Sunday, Durant played 36 against Denver, and he said he plans to play the second half of Brooklyn’s back-to-back against the Knicks on Wednesday night as he continues his return from the Achilles’ injury that cost him the 2019-20 season.

“I feel like I feel like I've been in a good groove and knocking down shots,” said Durant. “I mean, I feel good, man. I can't really pinpoint and tell you I'm back, have one of those ‘I’m back’ moments. But I just feel good and healthy. You know I’m glad I was able to get through this game tonight play 35 minutes, 36 minutes and 38 minutes last game. So I feel like my health is there, that’s the most important thing for me. That's the only the only thing I focus on. How I play, I know how to approach the game and I know what I need to do out there. So I'm just more so gauging my body and all intangibles of the game.”

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