- Benjamin Gerstel
KD scores a historic 53 points, as Brooklyn beats New York 110-107
After going 0-5 at the beginning of the first quarter, the New York Knicks were able to keep their head up, and keep fighting. A brutal start from the floor didn’t impact their spirit, and Thibidou and the Knicks were able to keep themselves in the game, despite Kevin Durant’s scoring. Without Kyrie, due to the mandates in Brooklyn, the scoring rested on Durant’s shoulders, and Durant torched the Knicks throughout the night.
The first half was a wild back and forth game, filled with a ton of transition offense, defense, and scoring. Durant’s 27 points (9-21 shooting), was the highest total by any player through the first two quarters. KD showed yet again why he is the best player in the world, hitting tough and ones off the backboard, draining threes, and even facilitating when the Knicks were blitzing him. While KD was knocking down shots, Andre Drummond’s presence on the interior was also crucial. His three offensive boards were huge for Brooklyn and allowed them to extend plays and convert on those opportunities. On one of them, he had an and-one that energized Barclays and its fans. Drummond had 13-7 at the half, and did not miss a single shot on six attempts.
Like Brooklyn, the Knicks also struggled to hit the three ball. Each team shot a combined 6-28, which is good for 21%. R.J. Barrett thrived tonight, hitting tough turnaround fadeaways and was the Knick’s scoring leader with 15 points. Fournier also knocked down two threes, and offered 14 points himself. Even though they struggled from three, the Knicks were able to push the floor all half and make their own mark rebounding. Mitchell Robinson continued to be dominant in the interior, and had as many offensive rebounds as Drummond did in the first half. After corralling them, Robinson would finish with his two handed flush, demoralizing the opponent and hyping up his own team. Robinson even blocked a midrange jumper from Kevin Durant, which is nearly unheard of. Even though their young players were producing, their star, Julius Randle, only had 11 first half points, compared to Durant’s 27.
Durant continued acting like Randle didn’t exist, knocking down contested shot after contested shot. After a vicious one-handed dunk, when Durant had Kyrie off of his feet applauding, Kevin Durant knocked down another deep three, to the joy of Barclays Center. As if things couldn’t get worse for New York defensively, after Durant hit his 40th point, he motioned over to Fournier, pinching his fingers (implying he’s too small to guard him). New York played with a ton of heart in the first half but they just couldn’t maintain that same hustle in the second. They also just couldn’t contain KD, who had his second 40 point game of the season, by the third quarter. It’s the 60th 40 point game of his career, which is 13th all time and only six behind Jerry West. KD is arguably the greatest scorer of all time and he proved that again tonight. He’s only had 40 points through three quarters 4 times, including tonight.
The New York Native, Obi Toppin, knocked down two threes to start the Knicks on a 10-2 run, in the fourth. KD’s surplus of scoring was not enough to keep New York out of the game, even though it looked like the Knicks had little fight in the third. The Knicks continued to fight in the fourth, and after a controversial call went their way, they remained in the game. Durant spun to make a move, but was immediately met by Randle, who knocked into Durant and made KD fall. While KD was looking for a call, Randle continued driving the other way, and Goran Dragic fouled Randle as he went to the basket. After what likely should’ve been Net’s ball, Randle knocked down the free throws, and made it a five point game. Fournier then hit a contested three in the corner to make it a two point game that New York ended up tying. Barrett, Randle and Fournier all had 20+, and sparked the Knicks late run, while KD was blitzed on 8 straight possessions to close out the game.
Mistakenly, the Knicks gave Durant too much space, and he knocked down his 49th point of the night to put Brooklyn up by three points. After a Randle dunk, the Knicks found themselves within one point, and they had the ball with 13.4 seconds left. New York had a chance to win the game, even with a two, but failed to even get a shot up. Fournier tried to pass it down low to Robinson after getting the ball in the corner, but the pass was tipped and eventually intercepted by the Nets.
Kevin Durant’s masterpiece will be the center of attention after the Nets, as he notched his 8th career game with 50+ points. He had 53 points tonight and became the second Net in history, with multiple 50-point games in a single season. Durant has also become the third player in NBA history, to score 50 points with three different teams, on a historic night for him. Behind Durant’s scoring, James Johnson’s unselfishness, and Bruce Brown’s hustle and defense, the Nets were able to win the close game, 110-107. KD’s epic performance today will not be forgotten anytime soon.