Kyrie Irving wasn’t available. James Harden was clearly struggling as he played through a hamstring injury. The Nets trailed the Bucks by 16 points at halftime.
But Brooklyn did have Kevin Durant, and in Tuesday night’s pivotal Game 5, that was enough. The former NBA MVP delivered a historic playoff performance in the Nets’ 114-108 win. He rang up 49 points, 17 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals and two blocks while shooting 16 of 23 from the field, 4 of 9 from 3-point range and 13 of 16 at the free throw line.
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Durant became the first player in postseason history with at least 45 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, per ESPN Stats and Info. Oh, and by the way, he also played all 48 minutes of Game 5.
“I mean, it’s ridiculous what he’s able to do,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “I think we know he’s capable of nights like this, but to do it tonight — we lose Ky. James obviously is soldiering through his ailments. We’re down bodies. We’re wounded, and for him to have the toughness, the mentality, that’s what makes him one of the all-time greats.
“This was a performance that — a signature performance for Kevin, and it was beautiful to watch.”
Brooklyn forward Jeff Green, who came up big with 27 points off the bench, put it simply when discussing Durant’s spectacular showing: “The world is witnessing, once again, who the best player in the world is.”
Players around the league, including LeBron James and Donovan Mitchell, shared their appreciation of Durant as he torched Milwaukee. Here are some of the best reactions:
GREATNESS!! Appreciate it while you can people! #KD
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 16, 2021
masterful performance from KD… he played all 48! #legend
— Myles Turner (@Original_Turner) June 16, 2021
Man KD is unfair🤣
— Kevin Huerter (@KevinHuerter) June 16, 2021
KD taking over this game
— Miles Bridges (@MilesBridges) June 16, 2021
Rucker Park Durant!!!
— Tim Hardaway Jr (@T_HardJR) June 16, 2021
Kevin Durant… your favorite player’s favorite player
— Larry Nance Jr (@Larrydn22) June 16, 2021
Best player in the world!!!!!!
— Isaiah Thomas (@isaiahthomas) June 16, 2021
KD mannnn ‼️
— 🏁 Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) June 16, 2021
49pt triple double…..Sheesh!!!!
— Vince Carter (@mrvincecarter15) June 16, 2021