NBA

Durant convinced 76ers underestimated shorthanded Nets

By Sports Desk December 17, 2021

Kevin Durant felt as if the Philadelphia 76ers underestimated the Brooklyn Nets due to their COVID-19 outbreak ahead of Thursday's 114-105 victory.

The Nets had just nine players available for selection ahead of the visit of Eastern Conference rivals the 76ers.

Nets coach Steve Nash commented beforehand about being concerned with how much game time Durant was having to play, describing it as "not safe or unsustainable" – though the depleted nature of their squad did not give him much of an option but to play him.

Before Thursday's win, Durant ranked second in minutes per game (36.9) in the NBA this season, and he racked up another 39 against the 76ers.

But it was probably just as well considering he tallied a double-double of 34 points and 11 rebounds – no one on the court bettered him in either respect.

The win improved the Nets to 21-8 and Durant reckoned they caught the 76ers in slack form.

"We played with a great brand of basketball right from the start," he said. "I think they came in too relaxed, they've seen we've only got nine players.

"We came out, hit them early and stuck with it. In the fourth quarter we just had good energy. We fed off that in the first three quarters and then in the fourth we were able to cruise."

On his own personal performance after another gruelling outing, the 33-year-old added: "I just try to do what's required, man.

"I mean, I want to be out there. I want to play. I want to win. So, it starts there. Whatever I've got to do to accomplish those three things, I'm going to do."

"It's basketball at end of the day, it's simple, I've been doing all my life. No matter who's on the floor, opponents or team-mates, I've just got to go out and be me. I'm just grateful I'm available to play."

76ers coach Doc Rivers was not drawn on the idea his team were complacent – instead, he commented on the standard of officiating, convinced Joel Embiid was not being protected enough.

"I thought Joel got fouled the last three post possessions, and-ones, and none was called," said Rivers.

"I don't know how a team can play the fourth quarter of a game where we're driving the ball and posting the ball and they have zero fouls. It's hard to play a quarter in the NBA and commit no fouls. Very surprised by that."

Embiid added: "I mean, they're the home team. I thought we got fouled a few times, especially down there. But, I mean, it's frustrating when they're calling fouls for the other teams down there and you don't get any. I can see what he [Rivers] was talking about."

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