Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant has been left out of the MVP conversation throughout the early part of the 2022-23 season, but he's quietly playing like the best player in the NBA.
Durant had another strong performance in Monday's 125-117 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, dropping 32 points with nine rebounds and five assists to propel the Nets to their ninth straight victory. Brooklyn also jumped Cleveland for third place in the Eastern Conference.
With Durant leading the way, Brooklyn shot a blistering 57.3 percent from the field. The 34-year-old shot 10-of-18 and hit five of his eight three-point attempts before he fouled out in the fourth quarter for the first time as a member of the Nets. He also passed Hall of Famer Tim Duncan for 15th place on the all-time scoring list during the game.
Durant's running mate Kyrie Irving matched him with 32 points, and T.J. Warren had a season-high 23 points off the bench. Brooklyn needed every contribution it received to outlast a 46-point performance by Cleveland point guard Darius Garland.
Fans and pundits on social media had a lot of good things to say about Durant after another impressive effort to keep Brooklyn's win streak alive:
Garland also received his share of praise online for his scoring outburst. The fourth-year floor general shot 14-of-20 from the field and added eight assists:
Spencer Davies @SpinDavies
Darius Garland left it all out there. A 46-spot on 14-for-20 from the field, made 13 of 15 free throws, dished out 8 dimes. Just not enough for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Cavs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Cavs</a> to get over the hump. Nets had an answer for everything, including some ice-cold, pure jumpers from Kyrie Irving, KD and Co.
Anthony Lima @SportsBoyTony
Great comeback, Garland finally summoned his powers which had been missing for over a month. <br><br>Big picture stuff - there's a world where Cavs could lose in first bc of wing deficiency. Nets have a coach now and they didn't guard Mobley/Allen/Stevens/Okoro<br><br>Get used to that look
Its Cavalier @ItsCavalier_Pod
Darius Garland's night:<br><br>46 Points <br>3 Rebounds<br>8 Assists<br>1 Steal<br>14/20 FG<br>5/7 3PT<br>13/15 FT<br>+6<br>40 minutes <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LetEmKnow?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LetEmKnow</a> <a href="https://t.co/Dkl9JbLUeD">pic.twitter.com/Dkl9JbLUeD</a>
The Nets will look to keep their win streak going when they visit the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. The Cavs will return to action on Thursday against the Indiana Pacers.