Stars across the NBA have been on a scoring binge in recent weeks. LeBron James has gone for 50 in two of his last three games; Jayson Tatum scored 54 on the Nets; Kyrie Irving dropped 50 on the Hornets; and Nikola Jokic (46), Julius Randle (46), Giannis Antetokounmpo (43), Joel Embiid (43) and Darius Garland (41) have all scored 40-plus.
On Sunday afternoon, Kevin Durant got into the mix. With Irving sitting courtside at Barclays Center for the first time all season, Durant poured in 53 points on 19 of 37 shooting from the field, and added six rebounds and nine assists in the Brooklyn Nets’ 110-107 win over the New York Knicks.
The 53 points were a season-high for Durant, and also the second-highest scoring game of his career, falling just short of the 54 he put up for the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2014. In addition, he joined LeBron and Tatum as the only players with multiple 50-point games this season.
“I didn’t know Seth [Curry] wasn’t playing until they announced the starting lineups,” Durant said. “So I felt like we was missing a good scoring punch — Seth is a three-level scorer. So I felt like I had to pick up for him and Kyrie [Irving]. We struggled in the second quarter so I just tried to be aggressive. That was the most shots I’ve took in a while, so it felt good.”
The 37 field goal attempts weren’t just the most shots Durant has taken in a while, they were the most shots he’s taken in a single game in his entire career. But with Irving still unable to play home games, Curry sidelined with an ankle injury and Ben Simmons out indefinitely, the Nets need Durant to carry them.
As he showed on Sunday, he’s more than capable. With an array of impossible-to-guard shots that included runners off the glass, pull-up jumpers off the dribble and catch-and-shoot 3s, Durant dominated all day long. Even when the Knicks resorted to double-teaming him any time he had the ball in the fourth quarter, Durant still managed to break free for a clutch 3 in the final minute.
Along the way he was having plenty of fun, talking with…