Kevin Durant: 'Words Can't Describe' Pride in Nets After Win vs. Raptors

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 15, 2021

BROOKLYN, NY - DECEMBER 14: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots a free throw during the game against the Toronto Raptors on December 14, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by David L. Nemec/NBAE via Getty Images)
David L. Nemec/NBAE via Getty Images

Kevin Durant was proud of his Brooklyn Nets teammates following Tuesday's 131-129 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

"Words can't describe how proud I am," he told reporters when discussing the team's ability to fight through adversity and respond with a win.

Bobby Marks of ESPN noted before the game started Brooklyn had just eight players available with so many in the league's health and safety protocols.

The Nets announced they placed James Harden and Bruce Brown in protocols before tip-off, which brought their total of players in protocols to seven. That put plenty of pressure on those who were available, and many of them were tasked with heavy minutes in the Eastern Conference clash.

Durant (48), Kessler Edwards (44) and Patty Mills (43) all played more than 40 minutes in the overtime win, while David Duke Jr. (38) and Blake Griffin (31) each played more than 30 minutes.

Even Nic Claxton (26), Cam Thomas (22) and Day'Ron Sharpe (13) were key contributors with so many players sidelined.

This was clearly not the team the Nets envisioned putting on the court before the season started. After all, the presence of three superstars in Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving made them surefire championship contenders, and the supporting cast was loaded with playoff-tested veterans.

However, Irving is yet to play this season because he remains unvaccinated against COVID-19. Harden's absence meant Durant was the one star remaining to spearhead the effort, and he responded with a triple-double of 34 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while further strengthening his case for MVP in the season's early going.

It was far from a one-man show, though, as Mills poured in 30 points behind 7-of-14 shooting from deep, while Edwards notched a double-double of 17 points and 10 boards.

Brooklyn still has the best record in the Eastern Conference at 20-8 but could face a challenging stretch if some of the players remain sidelined for the foreseeable future. It faces the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, Orlando Magic on Saturday and Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

Yet as long as Durant plays like he did Tuesday, the Nets figure to have a chance every night even while short-handed.