Kevin Durant sparks Nets to crucial comeback win over Knicks

Bruce Brown warned the Knicks fans not to talk too much trash to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in their first game together in the Garden. They didn’t listen.

They did pay, though.

After Brooklyn dug a huge halftime hole, and Irving got into a verbal altercation with a fan headed into the locker room, the Nets stormed back for a much-needed 110-98 victory.

The Nets, who trailed by as much as 21 in the third quarter, used a 20-2 blitz that spanned the third and fourth to take the lead. And after the Knicks tried to settle themselves and retake it, Brooklyn closed the game on a 16-2 run.

Brooklyn moved a half-game ahead of Atlanta and sits eighth in the East.

“It’s going to be big… it’s always a close game when we play them. So hopefully we can blow them out [Wednesday]. It’s gonna be what the first game we play both Ky and KD. I know they’re gonna be super excited,” Brown had predicted, adding, “I don’t think they want to say too many bad things because it’ll be two 50-balls if they try talking.”

Kevin Durant, who scored 32 points, shoots a 3-pointer during the Nets’ 110-98 come-from-behind win over the Knicks.
NBAE via Getty Images

There weren’t a couple of 50-point explosions, but Durant had 32 points, 11 assists and 10 boards while Irving had 24 points.

Alec Burks (24 points) and RJ Barrett (23) led the Knicks, but after the home team took a 71-50 lead on Barrett’s third-quarter bucket, the Nets turned it on.

“This is a road game against a local rival, so hopefully there’s more juice and more on the line,” Steve Nash said.

“Tell them before every game against a team that’s not up high in the standings, do not take this team lightly, they’re going to look at this as a great opportunity. They’re going to come out and try to prove who they are and what they can do. We talk about it, but we’re human beings and it’s not as easy as just saying it.”

Kyrie Irving, who scored 24 points, looks to make a pass during the Nets' win.
Kyrie Irving, who scored 24 points, looks to make a pass during the Nets’ win.
Jason Szenes

Durant’s pull-up put the Nets up 25-19 with 1:55 left in the first, but the Knicks reeled off a huge 19-0 run, capped by Obi Toppin’s layup.

The Nets missed eight straight shots and saw the Knicks hit 7 of 10 to take a 38-25 lead.

It was a 17-point Nets deficit at halftime, and the lead reached 71-50 after Barrett’s free throws with 11:16 left in the third. But Brooklyn stormed back.

The Knicks still led 82-67 after a Toppin fadeaway off a Barrett feed with 1:34 remaining in the third. But another huge run flipped the game again, and this time it was in the Nets’ favor.

RJ Barrett, who scored 23 points, goes up for a layup during the Knicks' loss.
RJ Barrett, who scored 23 points, goes up for a layup during the Knicks’ loss.
Jason Szenes

Their 20-2 run spanned the third and fourth periods.

An Irving steal off an Burks pass and feed to Durant for a dunk cut it to 84-83 and sent the Knicks into a timeout with 10:30 to play. Rookie Kessler Edwards put them ahead and Durant gave them an 87-84 lead.

Toppin’s layup and Burks’ free throws put the Knicks up by three, but Durant sank a midrange jumper to put Brooklyn ahead 98-96 with 4:13 left.

Irving took a key offensive foul on Burks, then Durant found Patty Mills for a huge 3-pointer for a 101-96 edge with 2:48 remaining. After a Burks miss, Seth Curry added another 3 to pad the cushion to eight with 1:36 left.

“Obviously you have two players — when you have Kryie and you have Kevin Durant — that puts a lot of pressure on you. And then they surrounded them with shooting. When you have a Curry and a Mills, those guys are going to spread you out,” said Tom Thibodeau, who saw his Knicks held to 15 points in the third and 16 in the fourth.

“Whatever their record is, you throw it out the window. Obviously a lot of mitigating circumstances, their road record tells you how good they are.”


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