The Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving bond remains strong.
That was evident in the Brooklyn Nets‘ latest win, a gutsy 119-116 comeback against the Toronto Raptors on the back of Irving’s first game-winning buzzer-beater of his NBA career.
Nets coach Jacque Vaughn initially drew the final play for Durant. But sensing the Raptors would probably trap him, Durant convinced Vaughn to give the play instead to Irving.
“[Irving] was already cooking so I didn’t want to get in his way. I felt like he could get whatever he wanted there. I also felt like they weren’t going to run and double him, either. They let him play one-on-one and it was a special, special shot.”Kevin Durant postgame via NBA.com
So, the final drawn-up play went with Durant playing decoy, screening hard for Irving to get loose from Fred Van Vleet’s defense. It was all the momentum Irving needed to sink one of the greatest game-winners in the Nets’ history.
Irving said he had a dialogue with Durant during the timeout after the initial play drawn up by Vaughn, which ultimately led to the decision to trust him with the last shot. And he didn’t disappoint.
“It just comes with the trust we’re building here.”Kyrie Irving postgame via NBA.com
Vaughn was comfortable with Durant’s suggestion, and he did not hesitate to adjust the game-winning play knowing that Irving is no stranger from hitting clutch shots.
“[Irving] definitely has an inner peace and poise that you have to have in that situation to not panic. And he has an innate ability to get to his spot. He wanted to rise up, he created space with balance.”Jacque Vaugh postgame via NBA.com
Irving’s game-winner capped a 32-point performance, with Durant backstopping him with 28 points.
The Nets improved to 11-3 since Irving returned from a team-imposed eight-game suspension. Irving and Durant’s strong play and bond during this stretch have catapulted the Nets to crack the top four in the Eastern Conference with an 18-12 record after a 2-7 start.
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