The Brooklyn Nets put their elite shotmaking on full display as they roared home in the second half to complete a 125-119 win over the Denver Nuggets to snap their four-game skid.
Kevin Durant led the charge with 33 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, for his 11th double-double of the season, while Kyrie Irving added 31 points, his third-straight game of 30+ points.
For the Nuggets, Nikola Jokic continued his MVP-level play with 29 points, while Michael Porter Jr. added 28 as their seven-game home win streak came to an end in their final game of the season at Ball Arena.
Here are some key takeaways from the rollercoaster matchup.
1. Comeback kings
After trailing by as many as 21 points, the Nets turned it on in the second half, outscoring the Nuggets 69-48 to complete their second-largest comeback of the season.
A Joe Harris 3-pointer with 6:12 remaining in the fourth put them in front 111-110, their first lead since the 35-second mark of the first quarter.
As Nikola Jokic tried to will his team to victory down the stretch, the Nuggets had no answer for Durant, who scored the team's final nine points, including a perfect 7-of-7 at the free-throw line.
KD in the CLUTCH.- Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 9, 2021
🎥 @MaimonidesMC Play of the Game pic.twitter.com/GscwWY08y9
"I'm happy for us to be uncomfortable right now," Nets head coach Steve Nash said post-game.
"I'm happy for us to struggle and suffer. I'm glad we won but suffering and building that resolve and that understanding and that - we don't have that common experience, so these experiences when we're on the mat are good for us and I think that our guys responded tonight but I'm also OK with us suffering and being uncomfortable."
2. Blake Griffin turns the tide
With all eyes on Durant and Irving, it's easy to forget there's a six-time All-Star on the floor waiting to knock down open shots.
In a glimpse of what Griffin could provide in the post-season as a luxury release valve, he proved instrumental in their 41-point third quarter, scoring 16 of his 20 points in the period on 4-of-5 from beyond the arc.
"Blake's threes kind of got us back in the game," Nash said. "But I really thought it was his defense. It's a tough matchup, man; (Jokic) is so good. But he battled, he scrapped, he made him work for it. And as did the other guys."
The Nets shot 16-of-19 in the quarter (84.2%) and 9-of-12 from 3-point range (75%) as they cut their 15-point half-time deficit in half.
3. Michael Porter Jr. stays hot
Michael Porter Jr. has been lights out from the 3-point line in the nine games (48 percent) entering tonight's contest and he picked up right where he left off with a stunning first-quarter performance.
The 22-year-old scored the Nuggets' first 11 points and went 5-of-6 from deep in the period on his way to 17 points, tying his previous best for most points in a single quarter.
MPJ with back-to-back-to-back threes, we love to see it pic.twitter.com/cBdiet6b7q- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 9, 2021
He finished with 28 points and four rebounds on 11-of-17 from the field and 6-of-10 from the 3-point line, more than holding his own in his matchup against Durant.
Alongside Porter Jr. Argentinian Facu Campazzo has stepped up in a big way in Jamal Murray's absence.
The diminutive point guard was at it again against the Nets, recording 19 points, five assists, and three steals on 4-of-9 shooting and 8-of-8 at the free-throw line and while he had his hands full on the defensive end, it certainly wasn't through a lack of effort.
Check out this high-octance defensive possession from the 5'10" playmaker.
Keep your eye on Facu Campazzo... the defensive activity! 💯- NBA (@NBA) May 9, 2021
📺: NBA TV pic.twitter.com/FNG05BtZgT
5. Race for seeding
With the win, the Nets move a half-game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks in the second seed in the Eastern Conference, with both teams tied in the loss column and the Bucks holding the tiebreaker (2-1).
Meanwhile, the Nuggets remain in the fourth seed in the Western Conference, 1.0 game. back of the LA Clippers in third.
6. Nash backing Jokic for MVP
Jokic has been the picture of consistency this season and tonight was no different as he poured in 29 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, leading the Nuggets in all three categories.
"Clearly, I think Jokic is the MVP this year," Nash said. "He's kind of gone wire-to-wire at this high level, and makes his teammates better, makes everything go. They lose Jamal Murray and they haven't really skipped a beat. That shows how good he is."
Joker makes everything look so easy pic.twitter.com/38MwKNZYYR- Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) May 9, 2021
7. Injury update
The Nuggets were shorthanded for this game, missing a host of players. Aaron Gordon was a late scratch due to right calf tightness as the injury list continues to grow in Denver.
Zeke Nnaji (sprained left ankle), Monte Morris (hamstring), Will Barton (hamstring) and PJ Dozier (right adductor strain) all missed the game, while Paul Millsap was rested.
For the Nets, James Harden missed his 17th straight game with a hamstring injury, but in good news for Brooklyn fans, he says he's "very confident" he will return to the lineup before the end of the regular season, according to ESPN's Malika Andrews.
8. What's next?
The Nets are back in action on Tuesday (ET) as they travel to Chicago to take on the Bulls rounding out their five-game road trip, while the Nuggets will visit LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday.
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