Kevin Durant dwells on Nets improvement over crucial FT miss

Alder Almo
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Nov 7, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) reacts after missing a free throw during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The usually reliable Kevin Durant missed a late free throw and cost the Brooklyn Nets a tough 96-94 loss in Dallas Monday night.

Durant was fouled while attempting a three-point tying basket with 5.6 seconds left. He hasn’t missed a free throw since Oct. 26 in Milwaukee. He extended that streak to 62 with the first of the three free throws awarded.

Then came the crucial miss that sunk him and the Nets. He intentionally missed the third attempt, and Royce O’neale grabbed the offensive rebound. But O’Neale drove into the teeth of the Mavericks’ defense and turned the ball over at the buzzer.

“I gotta make that. I gotta make that. That’s the game. We’d probably still be playing right now. F-ck, man. I felt like I went through my whole routine. Damn, I should have shot it a little stronger. I tell you all the time they’re free. They’re free. I was able to go out there and miss one. It sucks. Not much more I can say about it.”

Kevin Durant via NBA.com

It was an anti-climactic ending to the Nets’ fourth-quarter run. Durant scored 26 points to lead Brooklyn, which nearly wiped out an 11-point deficit in the final 3:21 of the game. But his costly miss wasted the Nets’ valiant defensive effort, especially limiting the Mavericks to only 72 field goal attempts.

Luka Doncic outplayed Durant with 36 points, six rebounds and six assists. The rest of the Mavericks barely shot enough (21 of 50) to beat the Nets.

Durant tried to pick up the pieces of the tough loss and focused on the positives of a 2-1 road trip.

“Just trying to establish what kind of offense and defense we want to have as a team. We found some things on this trip that work for all of us as we figure out everything. And everybody played extremely hard.

Kevin Durant via NBA.com

The Nets have been playing hard since Jacque Vaughn coached the team in the interim pending Steve Nash’s permanent replacement.

Their even 2-2 record under Vaughn doesn’t paint the whole story for the Nets, who morphed into a solid defensive team. Over their last four games, they registered a fourth-best 102.1 defensive rating.

Ben Simmons returned from a sore left knee but was hardly a factor during his 16-minute stint, producing only two points, three rebounds and two assists against two turnovers. Seth Curry also had an uninspiring 13 minutes with only one point. And worse, the Nets lost a reliable role player in Yuta Watanabe, who left in the second quarter with a sprained ankle.

But despite all of those hits, the Nets still had a chance to steal the win on the road against Doncic and a sellout crowd of 20,011 who heckled Durant.

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