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Kevin Durant’s 49-point explosion leads Nets to 3-2 series lead

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Kevin Durant’s 49-point explosion leads Nets to 3-2 series lead

Kevin Durant # 7 of the Brooklyn Nets celebrates after being fouled late in the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference second round at the Barclays Center on June 15, 2021. Elsa / Getty Images / AFP

Kevin Durant had 49 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists as the Brooklyn Nets came back and defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 114-108 Tuesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in New York.

The Nets, who overcame a 17-point deficit in the third quarter, lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 thanks to one of Durant’s most impressive postseason performances. They would advance to their first Eastern Conference final since 2003 if they can win Thursday night in Milwaukee. Game 7, if necessary, would be played in Brooklyn on Saturday.

Durant set a franchise record for points in a playoff game, breaking the mark of 43 set by Vince Carter in 2006. He also posted his second career postseason triple-double and was inducted into Hall of Famers Oscars. Robertson, Charles Barkley and Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic as the fourth player with at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a postseason game.

Durant fired 16 of 23 shots from the field, made 4 of 9 3-point attempts and made 13 of 16 free throws. He finished within one point of his personal record in the postseason, set with the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2019 Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Clippers.

On Tuesday, Durant scored 31 points in the final 18:38, as the Nets edged Milwaukee 54-32. He scored 11 in the third to put Brooklyn within 87-81 going into the fourth and then gave the Nets a 97-96 lead on a 3-pointer with 7:54 left.

The Bucks tied the game at 104 on a short jump shot by Jrue Holiday with 2:24 remaining, but the Nets definitely took the lead with two free throws by James Harden with 87 seconds to go. Durant finished off his great game with a triple and three free throws in the last 50.5 seconds.

Brooklyn’s Jeff Green had 27 points, his best mark in the playoffs, shooting 8 of 11 and 7 of 8 3-point attempts. Blake Griffin contributed 17 points for the Nets, who shot 49.4 percent from the floor.

Harden went from doubtful to active, but finished with just five points on 1-of-10 shooting. He missed the previous three games due to a strain on his right hamstring.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 34 points and 12 rebounds. Khris Middleton added 25 and Holiday contributed 19 for the Bucks, who also shot 49.4 percent on field goal attempts.

Antetokounmpo, Holiday and Middleton combined for 22 points as the Bucks stifled the Nets to miss 16 of 20 shots, guiding Milwaukee to a 29-15 lead after the first quarter. The visitors held a 59-43 lead at halftime.

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