Kevin Durant set a new playoff career-high with 49 points to go along with a triple-double that helped lift the short-handed and dinged-up Brooklyn Nets to a scintillating comeback against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Nets are back in the lead and up 3-2 against the Bucks.
Durant played the entire game — all 48 minutes — and did not sit out a single second in one of the most remarkable postseason performances in NBA history. When the final buzzer sounded, Durant notched a triple-double with 49 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists.
|Kevin Durant – Game 5 Stats
- Points: 49
- Minutes: 48
- FG: 16-23
- 3-PT: 4-9
- FT 13-16
- Rebounds: 17
- Assists: 10
- Steals: 3
- Blocks: 2
With Kyrie Irving sitting out due to a sprained ankle and James Harden slowed down by a hamstring injury, Durant put the Nets on his back and led them to a triumphant victory that ended a two-game winning streak by the Bucks.
Harden suited up for the first time since he injured his hamstring in the opening minute of Game 1 of the Nets/Bucks series. However, he acted more as a decoy than anything else due to his limited mobility, while Durant stole the show. Harden logged 46 minutes with a sore hamstring. He scored just five points but dished eight assists in the Game 5 win for the Nets.
The Nets now just need one win to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
Durant: 49 points in 48 minutes
The Nets fell behind early after the Bucks surged to a 12-2 lead to start the first quarter. They were down by 14 at the start of the second quarter and the Bucks led by 16 at halftime.
The Nets chipped away in the second half thanks to heroics by Durant. They got within six points by the end of the third quarter. By the time the Nets seized the lead midway through the fourth quarter, you could see the frozen Bucks were caught in KD’s headlights.
“I didn’t even think about nothing but just each possession,” said Durant in the post-game presser. “I was trying to win each possession, and I didn’t think of how many points I had or shot attempts, rebounds, assists.”
“It’s ridiculous what he’s able to do,” said head coach Steve Nash said. “We know he’s capable of nights like this, but to do it tonight when we’re down bodies, we’re wounded. For him to have that toughness and mentality, that’s what makes him one of the all-time greats.”
Bucks unable to bully Durant
The Bucks beat down Durant during physical confrontations in Game 3 and Game 4, which resulted in back-to-back wins in Milwaukee. PJ Tucker and the Bucks held Durant to 20-for-53 from the floor in those two losses.
Officials called a tighter Game 5, and Durant received the star treatment on his home court at Barclays Center. The Bucks were unable to manhandle Durant, and both Tucker and Jrue Holiday were whistled for quick and early fouls. Holiday, one of the top defenders in the NBA, got into foul trouble with three fouls in the first half.
“I feel like a lot of those aren’t equal, or the same, on both sides,” Holiday kvetched.
With the zebras neutralizing the Bucks’ brutish defense, an unimpeded Durant walloped them. He knocked down four 3-pointers and shot 12-for-14 from inside the 3-point line. He also added 13 free throws to finish Game 5 with 49 points.
“We have to just keep containing him as much as possible, but at the end of the day, he’s done an unbelievable job,” said Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo. “Best player in the world, best scorer in the world.”
Antetokounmpo scored 34 points in a losing effort for the Bucks. The series returns to Milwaukee for Game 6 on Thursday evening. The Nets opened as a +5 underdog heading into Game 6.
Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs.