Los Angeles – Kevin Durant used all the weapons in his arsenal on Sunday, exploding for an NBA season-high 51 points and dishing out nine assists as the Brooklyn Nets clobbered the struggling Detroit Pistons 116-104.
The 11-time all-star and the league’s current leading scorer recorded his seventh 50-point game of his career and equalled the fifth highest scoring performance in Nets’ franchise history. Deron Williams holds the record with 57 points against Charlotte in 2012.
Durant knew he had to take on a bigger role Sunday because the Nets were missing 2018 MVP James Harden and power forward Paul Millsap.
Kyrie Irving, who is refusing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, has yet to play a game this season.
“I knew I probably needed to pick up a little more of the scoring tonight,” said Durant, who took 31 shots.
Kevin Durant takes over the NBA’s season-high scoring performance from Steph Curry with his 51st point of the night. pic.twitter.com/IEvKjT9hql
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 13, 2021
“We were turning the ball over more than we should, and I was doing as much of that as anyone, so I figured I better just keep shooting.”
Durant added seven rebounds as the Nets won for the third time in their last four games.
Patty Mills added 18 points and five assists for the Nets, while LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and Cam Thomas scored 13 for Brooklyn, who held the Pistons to just 13 points in the fourth quarter.
“It was a good fourth quarter for us,” said Durant.
“We got some easy baskets off our defense. With guys out, other guys were stepping up, doing more and playing different roles for us.”
Cade Cunningham had 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Pistons, who are last in the Eastern Conference with just four wins on the season. Frank Jackson had 25 points and Saben Lee finished with 17 points.
Earlier Sunday, the league slapped Durant with a $25,000 fine for cursing at an Atlanta Hawks fan in Atlanta on Friday.
Heading into the Pistons game, Durant was leading the league in scoring with a 28.5 points per game average. He also averaging 7.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists through 24 starts.
Golden State’s Stephen Curry is the only other NBA player to score 50 points in a game this season, against Atlanta on November 8.
“He was just incredible tonight,” said Nets coach Steve Nash of Durant.
“He even had a couple blocks and played incredible defense in the fourth quarter.”
– Bucks take out Knicks –
In New York, Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his first triple-double of the season and Khris Middleton scored 24 points to lead the visiting NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks to a dominant 112-97 victory over the Knicks.
Antetokounmpo scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists among seven players who scored double figures in the wire-to-wire win.
Bobby Portis added 19 points and Rodney Hood scored 14 off the bench for Milwaukee, who led 61-48 by halftime.
The Bucks outscored the Knicks 46-30 in the paint and converted 12 offensive rebounds into 22 points.
The short-handed Knicks lost for the eighth time in 10 games.
Forward Quentin Grimes, making his first NBA start, led the Knicks with 27 points. He set a Knicks rookie record with seven three-pointers on 13 attempts.
In Los Angeles, LeBron James had a triple double of 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to power the Los Angeles Lakers to a 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic.
James scored 14 of his points in the third quarter for the Lakers, who have won five of their last seven contests.
The Lakers used a 36-10 advantage in the third quarter to record their second straight win and move two games above .500 for the first time in a month.
James earned his 101st career triple-double as the Lakers won their second straight with all-star Anthony Davis out with an injured left knee. Coach Frank Vogel said Davis is expected to return soon.
In Portland, Anthony Edwards scored 24 points as the Minnesota Timberwolves spoiled Damian Lillard’s return with a 116-111 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland star Lillard returned after missing the last five games due to an abdomen injury and tallied 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes.