LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Kevin Durant finished with 49 points as the Brooklyn Nets rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-108 in game five of their Eastern Conference series on Tuesday.
Durant, who played every minute of the contest, also had 17 rebounds and 10 assists as the Nets seized a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
He took over in the second half for the Nets, who were behind by double digits for most of the game and by 17 with seven minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Nets then went on a 17-5 run and Durant sealed it with a clutch three pointer and four key free throws in the final two minutes. Durant played all 48 minutes, shot 16-of-23 from the floor and finished just shy of his playoff career high of 50 points.
“I wasn’t planning on playing every minute but I told my coach I feel good and let me ride it out,” Durant said.
Nets coach Steve Nash said when it is all said and done this will go down as one of Durant’s “signature” performances
“He played the entire game and he barely missed,” said Nash. “It is ridiculous what he is able to do. To do it on a night like this when we are down bodies and we are wounded.
“This is what makes him one of the all-time greats. This is a signature performance.”
Brooklyn now has a chance of closing the series out on Thursday in Milwaukee where the Bucks are on a lengthy winning streak. Game seven, if necessary, would be Saturday in Brooklyn.
The Nets have reached the precipice of the NBA finals despite playing for much of the playoffs and the regular season without their “Big Three” of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden on the floor at the same.
The Nets were pretty much down to Durant Tuesday night as Irving got injured in the previous game and even though Harden dressed he was largely ineffective, scoring just five points on one-of-10 shooting.
It was Harden’s first game back after missing almost all of the first four games of the series with a tight hamstring.
Brooklyn has declined to announce the severity of Irving’s ankle injury but he has been seen on crutches and with a walking boot on.
Jeff Green scored 27 points, and Blake Griffin chipped in 17 for the Nets.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 12 rebounds, while Khris Middleton added 25 points for the Bucks.