Durant explodes for 51 against Pistons; Giannis, Middleton fuel Bucks' win

Published December 13, 2021, 1:51 PM

by Agence-France-Presse

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets (center) shoots the ball against Isaiah Stewart and Rodney McGruder of the Detroit Pistons during the second quarter at Little Caesars Arena on December 12, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (AFP)

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 lowly 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 the fifth highest scoring performance in Nets franchise history. Deron Williams holds the record with 57 points against Charlotte in 2012.

Durant says he 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.

“We were missing James and Millsap. I had to pick up the scoring. I was trying to take advantage,” said Durant, who took 31 shots against Detroit.

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, six rebounds and six assists.

Earlier Sunday, the league slapped Durant with a $25,000 fine for cursing at an Atlanta Hawks fan in Atlanta on Friday. The incident occurred with 28 seconds remaining in the second quarter of the Nets’ 113-105 win.

Heading into Sunday’s contest, 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.

Bucks take out Knicks

Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo posted his first triple-double of the season and Khris Middleton scored 24 points to lead the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks to a dominant 112-97 victory over the New York Knicks.

Antetokounmpo scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists. He and Middleton led seven Bucks players to score in 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. They are 1-6 since coach Tom Thibodeau removed Kemba Walker from the rotation, and Walker again didn’t play by coach’s decision even though Alec Burks was inactive for personal reasons, and RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin were unavailable due to Covid-19 protocols.

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.

He had come into the contest averaging 1.8 points per game in 13 appearances off the bench.

Meanwhile, veteran forward Julius Randle struggled, coughing up seven turnovers and contributing just eight points.

New York made seven of 13 three-point attempts in the third quarter, but the Bucks were able to douse any threat of a rally and the Knicks never got the deficit under 13 points in the final period.