Durant put up 49 points on 16-of-23 shooting with 17 rebounds and 10 assists during his legendary night, playing every minute of the matchup with Kyrie Irving sidelined and James Harden pushing through a hamstring injury.
James responded to the effort from Durant on Twitter, writing: “GREATNESS!! Appreciate it while you can people! #KD”
James and Durant will forever be linked as rivals during this era, especially after their battles in the NBA Finals. The comparison between the two became a topic of conversation this week when Irving went down, with many bringing up some of the circumstances James went through when trying to lead his team to the title.
Twitter Erupts Following Kevin Durant’s Big Night
While James didn’t go as far to call Durant the best player in the world — a title he likely believes belongs to him — many others decided to give the belt to KD, including Bucks two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“He’s the best player in the world right now and we’ve got to beat him as a team,” Antetokounmpo said after the game.
Durant’s teammate Jeff Green — who didn’t have a bad game himself with 27 points off the bench — agreed.
“The world is witnessing, once again, who the best player in the world is,” Green told reporters.
Even Lakers legend Magic Johnson weighed in with the analysis everyone has grown to love.
“Kevin Durant put on one of the greatest performances in NBA playoff history scoring 49 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 assists and leading his shorthanded Nets to victory taking a 3-2 lead,” Johnson wrote.
On Twitter, “Damn KD” became a trending topic as Durant’s performance went viral.
“The boy [Kevin Durant] gave the Bucks a straight spanking tonight with a leather belt!” former NBAer turned ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins tweeted. “Btw I don’t want to hear a SINGLE word about Giannis and his defense because he was ducking KD all night! Carry the hell on…”
Lakers Know How Injuries Impact Title Hopes
The Lakers were hopeful of a repeat this year but were bitten hard by the injury bug, both during the regular season and in the postseason. James missed a career-high number of games (27), while Anthony Davis never looked 100% after suffering a series of lower-body injuries and sitting out an extended period of time.
The nail in the Lakers’ coffin was when Davis went down with a groin strain in Game 4 of their first-round series against the Suns. While the injuries were a setback to a repeat, James said he trusts general manager Rob Pelinka on keeping the Lakers a contender.
“I think Rob (Pelinka) has done such a good job of constructing this team over the last few years, and he will continue to do that. I will have some input, he always asks for my input, has AD’s input, but at the end of the day we want to continue to get better,” James said. “I trust Rob, I trust Kurt, I trust everyone upstairs that does their diligence and our coaching staff.”