Kevin Durant’s 55 points not enough as Nets fall to Hawks

ATLANTA — Within the largest recreation of the Nets’ season, Kevin Durant gave them the most important scoring evening of his profession. And it nonetheless wasn’t sufficient.

The Nets’ 122-115 loss to the Hawks — falling behind and losing a career-high 55 factors from Durant — knocked them all the way down to ninth place within the Jap Convention. And going chilly on the absolute worst attainable time down the stretch of the common season could have simply made life a lot tougher within the postseason.

Durant did every little thing in his energy, capturing 19 of 28, grabbing seven rebounds and hitting a career-high 8 of 10 from deep regardless of being doubled and blitzed. He had his third 50-point recreation of the season, essentially the most in a season for a Internet and essentially the most of his illustrious profession. And the Nets squandered it.

With the Nets (40-38) enjoying sans Seth Curry, Bruce Brown and Goran Dragic — to not point out Ben Simmons and Joe Harris — Durant had few driving lanes and bought no assist. Kyrie Irving had 31 factors and 6 assists, however shot simply 12 of 32. No different Internet cracked double-figures.

Brooklyn tumbled into ninth with simply 4 video games left on the slate, a recreation behind the Hawks — winners of 5 straight — and solely forward of Charlotte by way of tiebreaker. They usually fell from a double-elimination scenario needing only a lone win to clinch a playoff berth to single-elimination and having to win twice to advance.

Kevin Durant, who scored 55 factors, makes a transfer on Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot in the course of the Nets’ 122-115 loss to the Hawks.
USA TODAY Sports activities

The play-in begins April 12, but when it began now they’d host the Tenth-seeded Hornets needing to win to stave off an ignominious non-playoff season. And even victory would simply earn them a date with the loser of the 7-8 tilt (say, Cleveland or Atlanta), needing to prevail once more to get the ultimate seed within the East.

It’s arduous to overstate how pivotal Saturday was. The Nets had been completely conscious getting into, and nonetheless bought outscored, 37-20, within the second quarter, by no means main once more. They bought inside some extent within the fourth, however by no means over the hump.

“I believe it’s only a excessive degree of focus and intent and function, and begin the sport with the requisite vitality and focus. If we try this, I really feel nice about our crew,” Steve Nash had stated beforehand. “So, it’s a giant recreation. However all you are able to do is go attempt to play your greatest. So I simply anticipate our guys to be centered, exit and play and have enjoyable and revel in enjoying video games that truly imply one thing.”

Kyrie Irving, who scored 31 points, drives on Kevin Huerter during the Nets' loss.
Kyrie Irving, who scored 31 factors, drives on Kevin Huerter in the course of the Nets’ loss.
USA TODAY Sports activities

The sport meant lots; but it surely’s uncertain the Nets had a lot enjoyable.

With the backcourt shorthanded, the Nets used their team-record forty second totally different beginning lineup of the season. 9 fast Durant factors noticed them to an 11-2 lead simply over two minutes in; but it surely didn’t final.

The Nets led 34-29 on an Andre Drummond steal and dunk, however they coughed up 14 unanswered factors – a lot of the run with out Durant on the ground and the lineup offensively-challenged. The Nets fell behind, 43-34, earlier than Irving stemmed the tide, but it surely was too little, too late.

The Nets bought inside 57-50 on Durant’s free throw with 1:26 left within the half; however they surrendered the ultimate eight factors capped by a Danilo Gallinari 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to enter the locker room down by 15, their largest deficit of the evening.

Durant poured in 19 within the third quarter alone to attempt to will the Nets again into it, and an acrobatic Irving layup minimize it to 92-87 with 7.5 seconds remaining. However Trae Younger (team-high 36 factors) sliced by way of the protection to beat the buzzer.

A Durant pullup made it 107-103, and after a Younger miss, Johnson made considered one of two on the stripe to tug the Nets inside three 3:14 left.

Irving drove for a floating financial institution shot to chop the result in 107-106 with 2 ¹/₂ minutes remaining, however Bogdan Bogdanovic made it three and Younger’s floater padded it again to 5 at 111-106 with 1:31 to play. The Nets by no means bought nearer than three, and Irving’s missed 3 with 44 seconds primarily sealed it.

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