Kevin Durant Put Up 51 Points To Drag The Nets To A Win Over The Pistons

The Brooklyn Nets sit atop the Eastern Conference standings at 19-8, which comes as little surprise given they were the heavy title favorites coming into the season, but to get there they’ve had to navigate life without some key players. Kyrie Irving’s absence all year has been well documented, but Brooklyn has also been without sharpshooter Joe Harris for half of the year as he had ankle surgery late in November.

That has placed a heavy scoring burden on Brooklyn’s two remaining stars in James Harden and Kevin Durant, and with Harden stumbling out of the gate in terms of scoring, Durant has had to carry the load. While Harden has started to regain his form of late, the Nets gave the Beard a night off to rest on Sunday against Detroit, figuring a date with the East’s worst team was as good a time as any to steal a night of rest.

The Pistons had other ideas, taking a five-point lead into the fourth quarter behind a strong effort from rookie star Cade Cunningham, but the night, ultimately, belonged to Durant who refused to let the Nets drop a game in Detroit, piling up 51 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds in 41 minutes of work, shooting 16-of-31 from the field (5-of-10 from three) and 14-of-15 from the free throw line.

Durant hauled the Nets back into the game, tying things early in the fourth on a pullup three-pointer, and Brooklyn ultimately went on to win the fourth quarter 30-13, running away to a 116-104 win.

His last two buckets were emblematic of what makes KD impossible to deal with as a scorer, as he attacked downhill on both buckets. When the defender gave him a driving lane to stay close for a shot, he went to the hoop, and when he had a lane cut off by help he pulled up for a midrange jumper.

It’s Durant’s first 50-point game as a Net and the seventh of his career, and he sets the early mark for the highest scoring game of the 2021-22 season.

He has been sensational all season for the Nets, firmly planting himself in the MVP conversation, and he has been almost defiant about playing as many minutes as possible to ensure Brooklyn lands at or near the top of the East when the playoff seedings arise. On Sunday, the Nets needed all 41 minutes of effort from KD, even against a struggling Detroit team, and he delivered one of the best performances of the season in return.