LOS ANGELES (AFP) – 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 5 of their National Basketball Association (NBA) play-off series on Tuesday (June 15).
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,” he 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 7, if necessary, would be on 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 play-off 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 bulldozed their way through the NBA post-season despite playing for much of the play-offs 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 on 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.