Kevin Durant Touted as MVP Candidate After Nets Lose 4th Straight Without Star

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 20, 2023

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 06: Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during a game at the Smoothie King Center on January 06, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 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. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Kevin Durant's MCL sprain may wind up costing him the MVP in the final voting, but his absence is only serving to highlight his value to fans.

The Brooklyn Nets dropped their fourth straight game without Durant on Thursday, losing a 117-112 game to the Phoenix Suns that was not as close as the final score. Phoenix led by as many as 24 points before the Nets went on a fourth-quarter scoring barrage to draw the game within two points within eight seconds remaining.

The Suns managed to avoid a full-scale collapse and end their own three-game losing streak, which has come with Chris Paul and Devin Booker out of the lineup.

The absence of Paul and Booker leaves Brooklyn with little excuse for the loss aside from the fact this team simply isn't very good without Durant on the floor.

Jac Manuell @JacManuell

Watching the Nets without Kevin Durant: <a href="https://t.co/Ix4TPn4W7y">pic.twitter.com/Ix4TPn4W7y</a>

500 🏎 @Kameron_Hay

Kevin Durant is the real MVP

Nick Friedell @NickFriedell

And what we are learning -- for the second consecutive year -- is that a healthy Kevin Durant covers up a whole lot of flaws on an inconsistent Nets roster.

Brooklyn Netcast @BrooklynNetcast

If this doesn't say Kevin Durant is the most valuable player in basketball then I don't know what does.

Robin Lundberg @robinlundberg

Kevin Durant appreciation season

Matt Brooks @MattBrooksNBA

I don't understand how every single member of the Nets, coaching included, completely falls apart when Kevin Durant gets hurt.

Anthony F. Irwin @AnthonyIrwinLA

KD's case for MVP seems to have only improved since his injury

Kyrie Irving finished with 30 points, seven rebounds and seven assists but continued his stretch of dreadful shooting with Durant out of the lineup. Irving made just 11 of his 27 shot attempts and is shooting just 38.0 percent overall during Brooklyn's losing streak.

The CaruShow 🐐 @BaldMambaSZN

Kyrie as the 1st option on a team <a href="https://t.co/b4w7TpWX3A">pic.twitter.com/b4w7TpWX3A</a>

(Depressed) WπŸ…°οΈVID @DavidAtake

Kyrie without KD <a href="https://t.co/lQW04ufRDB">pic.twitter.com/lQW04ufRDB</a>

Justin Termine @TermineRadio

Didn't even take a week without Durant for the Nets to have their effort questioned on TNT.<br><br>Same thing every single time you ask Kyrie to lead, not only do you lose--- you unravel.

Making matters worse: The Nets' last three losses have all come against teams below the .500 mark. These are games they should be able to win with Durant out of the lineup. Dropping a game to the Boston Celtics is fully excusable; losing to the Thunder and a barebones Suns team is not.

Brooklyn's next chance to right the ship comes Friday night in Utah, which is another winnable game. After that, though, the Nets take trips to Golden State and Philadelphia and could quickly be looking at a seven-game losing streak if they fail to take care of business against the Jazz.