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Kevin Durant’s on-court brilliance no laughing matter for Nets

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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) reacts after scoring a 3-point shot against the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in New York.
AP Photo/Jessie Alcheh

As the Nets went on to a 109-102 win over the Orlando Magic on Monday, a clip from the first quarter had started to make the rounds on social media. 

Superstar Kevin durant was being guarded by Orlando’s Kevon Harris closely, which prompted Durant to laugh and then duck under the Magic guard as he drove to the net to setup an and-1 chance. If anything, the moment was a sign of things to come as Durant had finished with a season-high 45 points in a superstar effort that Nets fans have come to expect out of him. 

“(Harris) was just extra physical using his hands,” Durant said about the viral moment. “It was legal, but it was just a lot. I was wondering if the ref was going to call something; he didn’t. He let us play on, and I just thought it was funny how physical he was, but we’re all just having a good time playing the game.”

Perhaps it was all that Harris and the Magic could do to try and stop Durant on Monday. In an effort worthy of the superstar label Durant holds, he finished the night shooting 19-for-24 while adding seven rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks in 39 minutes. 

While Durant’s efforts often leave those watching awestruck it comes as little surprise when he reaches that level. Perhaps the only surprise left was the fact that the win over Orlando was only his first 40-plus point performance of the year. 

Nets
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving talks to forward Kevin Durant (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in New York.AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson

“I think it’s a natural reaction when you’re seeing something special occur in front of you,” Irving said about watching Durant play. “You do your best to still be engaged, but it’s hard not to just stare and watch somebody that’s that special and talented. We know what he’s capable of, when he shows his talent like he did tonight, it’s definitely an honor to be a part of. Grateful to be his teammate.”

His two highest-scoring games of the year — a pair of 37-point nights — both resulted in losses for the Nets, but the party hadn’t been spoiled this time around for him. Durant pointed to the Nets winning the battles in several of the fundamental areas on Monday as part of the reason why Brooklyn was able to capitalize on his big night.

One question that Durant has been asked before has been, when does he know he’s going to go off as he did on Monday? During a courtside interview with YES Network after the win he was asked that very same question again. 

His response: “When I wake up.”

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When he was in the press conference room at Barclays Center later in the night he explained a little further. Durant told reporters the remark was a tribute to Milwaukee Bucks guard Jevon Carter who had said that earlier this year.

“Somebody asked him the same question, so I was paying homage to him,” Durant said. “But you really don’t know, I really don’t know. I’ve had games where I shot incredible in warm-ups and had the worst shooting night that night. Mainly if my mind is in the right place, coming into the game as far as following the game plan, I felt like that’s when I had solid games. It’s trying to stay locked in what we doing on the defensive side of the ball and just trying to stay locked in on where coach want me to play at on offense. And the game just flowing naturally for me.” 

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