Durant rallies Nets past Knicks at MSG
Furious fourth quarter keeps Brooklyn in play-in position
Kevin Durant refused to lose.
The superstar forward scored 23 of his game-high 32 points after intermission Wednesday night as the Brooklyn Nets rallied from 21 points down for a 110-98 victory over the New York Knicks in front of a sellout crowd of 19,812 at Madison Square Garden.
Brooklyn needed a 15-2 run to start the fourth quarter just to nose in front, but the Knicks wouldn’t go away.
Durant then scored eight consecutive points for the Nets, who went ahead for good, 98-96, when the two-time NBA Finals MVP drilled a short jumper with 4:15 remaining in regulation.
Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry and Patty Mills followed with successive 3-pointers for Brooklyn (42-38), which moved within one game of seventh-place Cleveland in the race for play-in tournament positioning.
The Nets are tied with Atlanta for the No. 8 seed, but hold the tiebreaker edge, meaning they would advance directly to a first-round playoff series if they beat the Cavaliers on Friday and the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
Both of those contests will be played at the Barclays Center and so would a play-in game if Brooklyn can run the table.
The Nets would only need to win a 7-8 play-in game to advance to a best-of-7 automatically.
However, if the Nets falter in their final two games, they may face a win-or-go home scenario in the 9-10 contest.
Irving, who scored 42 points in Tuesday night’s victory over Houston, finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Nets completed a season sweep of the Knicks and beat them for the seventh consecutive time.
“I just kept telling our guys that this is our game,” said the non-vaccinated Irving, who only got permission to play games in Manhattan or our borough earlier this month when Mayor Eric Adams altered the COVID-19 protocols for private businesses.
Curry and Mills added 15 points apiece for Brooklyn, which trailed 71-50 early in the third quarter before Durant sparked the Nets closer to a more favorable position in the upcoming postseason.
“We know how much Knicks fans don’t like us, especially now this era of the Nets, with us not choosing the Knicks, me and Kyrie. So it definitely adds something to the rivalry,” Durant noted after quelling the pro-Knick contingent at MSG.
Alec Burks had 23 points and R.J. Barrett added 22 for the Knicks (35-45), who have two games remaining before packing it in for the season.
The Nets may experience a similar fate as early as next week. But not if Durant can help it.
NOTHING BUT NET: Brooklyn sharpshooter Goran Dragic has missed the last three games while following the NBA’s safety and health protocols in Atlanta, where he began to feel ill last Saturday. … The Nets won a franchise-record 24 road game this year.
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