Kevin Durant's Sunday got off to a rough start, as the NBA announced he was being fined $25,000 for "directing obscene language" towards a fan in Atlanta earlier this week. It ended with Durant letting his play do his talking, as he dropped another master class in the Brooklyn Nets' 116-104 win over the Detroit Pistons.
Durant was simply unstoppable, as he finished with 51 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and two blocks on 16 of 31 from the field. With Kyrie Irving still away from the team, and James Harden taking the night off for rest, Durant played over 41 minutes and put the Nets on his back.
"We're missing James (Harden), we're missing Paul Millsap, so I felt like I had to pick up the scoring a little more," Durant said. "This team, Detroit, was playing back in the pick and roll, they wasn't doubling as often as other teams, so I just tried to take advantage."
Asked if he was aware that he was approaching 50 in the fourth quarter, Durant cracked a smile. "Of course."
After such a big night, it's probably worth just running down some of the most impressive facts from his performance in bullet point form:
- Durant's 51 points were the most scored by any player in a single game this season
- Durant's 51 points are the most ever scored in Detroit's Little Caesars Arena (surpassing his teammate Blake Griffin, who had the previous record with 50)
- Durant's 51 points were the most he's scored since joining the Nets
- Durant's 51 points were tied for the fifth-most in a single game in Nets franchise history
- This was the seventh 50-point game of Durant's career. Since he entered the league, only James Harden (23), Damian Lillard (12), Steph Curry (10) and LeBron James (9) have more
- Durant nearly outscored the entire Pistons' starting lineup (56 points) by himself (51 points)
In typical Durant fashion, he was scoring from all over the floor on Sunday night, making six shots at the rim, five from the mid-range and five from 3-point land to go with 14 made free throws. And, as per usual, he made it look extremely easy. With his smooth jumpers and sense of control, no one makes the game seem as simple as Durant.
"Kevin was incredible tonight," Nets head coach Steve Nash said. "For him to be able to score 51 with nine assists, seven rebounds and two blocks is unbelievable."
Thanks to Durant, the Nets improved to 19-8 on the season, and extended their lead atop the Eastern Conference to 1.5 games over the Milwaukee Bucks. The past few months may not have gone as planned in Brooklyn, but as long as Durant is healthy they're going to be one of the teams to beat.