(CNN) – After two consecutive losses, without his fellow star Kyrie Irving and with a recently returned from injury James Harden, Kevin Durant proved once again why he is one of the best in the NBA.
On Tuesday night, he scored 49 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and dished out 10 assists to help his Brooklyn Nets come back and beat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-108 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
In doing so, Durant became the first player in NBA history to record at least 45 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game.
Nets head coach Steve Nash paid tribute to Kevin Durant’s performance in New York, calling it a “historic, historic performance.”
“It’s ridiculous what he’s capable of,” Nash said. «We know that he is capable of nights like this, but to do it tonight … we lose [a Irving]James is obviously going through his ailments, we are on the ground, we are injured. And for him to have that toughness, that mentality, that’s what makes him one of the greats of all time.
“This is a Kevin signature performance, and it was beautiful to watch,” added Nash.
All about Kevin Durant
After Irving suffered an ankle injury in game four and with Harden making his first appearance since a hamstring injury in game one, it seemed early on that Kevin Durant would have to carry the burden for the Nets. .
And with the focus on him, he made one of the best performances in the NBA Playoffs. The 32-year-old played all 48 minutes of the game, becoming the first player since LeBron James in 2018 to play every minute of a playoff game.
He also set a Nets franchise record for points in a playoff game, surpassing Vince Carter’s mark of 43 from 15 years ago.
With the help of Jeff Green’s 27 points, Durant was able to pull the Nets out of a 17-point deficit in the third quarter.
Praise for “the best player in the world”
Among a host of NBA stars who took to Twitter to praise Kevin Durant was four-time NBA MVP James, who said: “GREATNESS! Appreciate it while you can, people! “
Even Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who won two MVP awards, could do nothing but praise Durant afterward.
“It’s hard. He is the best player in the world at the moment and we have to beat him as a team, ”he told the media after the game.
“We have to mark him as a team and we have to make him take difficult shots, like tonight, and we have to keep doing our job, and hopefully he is going to fail. But we have to keep doing our job, keep defending together, keep showing help, keep making it difficult, keep picking it up all over the pitch, “he continued.
The victory means the Nets lead the best-of-seven playoff series 3-2, with Game 6 in Milwaukee on Thursday and Brooklyn within one win of their first Eastern Conference final since 2003.