Kevin Durant dropped an incredible 51 points for the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday in a 116-104 win over Detroit. In James Harden’s absence, Durant solidified himself in the MVP conversation, although that isn’t something he’s focused on.
Durant shot 16-of-31 from the floor, including 5-of-10 from the 3-point line, in 41 minutes. He was taken out of the game with over a minute left to play after he knocked down a jumper for his 51st point. KD also led Brooklyn with nine assists and seven rebounds.
His 51 points set an NBA-high for the 2021-22 season, topping Steph Curry’s 50 points against the Hawks on Nov. 8.
How does Durant’s performance rank among the best all-time performances in Nets history, though? Believe it or not, there were four better outings since the franchise’s inception back in 1967. Let’s take a look.
Brooklyn Nets best all-time performances
4. Mike Newlin: 52 points vs. Boston on Dec. 16, 1979
There must be something special about those mid-December games. During the Nets’ fourth season in the NBA, guard Mike Newlin scored 52 points in a 115-112 overtime loss to the Celtics at Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.
Newlin shot 19-of-28 from the field, only making one of his three 3-point attempts, but cashing in on 13 of his15 free throws. He also contributed six rebounds, three assists, and one steal.
He set a franchise record for points scored in a single game, which wouldn’t be broken for another 30 years.
3. Ray Williams: 52 points vs. Detroit on Apr. 17, 1982
The Nets were playing in their final regular-season game during the 1981-82 season and guard Ray Williams made sure to end the year on a high note. In front of 14,293 fans in New Jersey, he scored a career-best 52 points in a 147-132 win over Detroit.
Williams went 21-of-34 from the floor and knocked down only one 3-pointer. His 52 points tied Newlin’s at the time for a franchise record, and although that’s since been broken, his 21 made shots in a single game is still a record.
The Nets finished the season with a 44-38 record and sat in fourth place in the East following Newlin’s 52-point burst.
2. Kyrie Irving: 54 points vs. Chicago on Jan. 31, 2020
Nearly two years ago, guard Kyrie Irving exploded for 54 points in a 133-118 victory over Chicago only five days after Lakers legend Kobe Bryant died.
Irving made all 10 of his shots in the first half and had 27 points. He shot 19-of-23 from the field and 7-of-9 from the 3-point line, narrowly missing his career-best of 57 points. Irving added five assists and five rebounds.
It wasn’t the first time that Irving had scored 50+ points that year. During the season-opener against Minnesota, he scored 50 points in a 127-126 loss.
Less than a week before the game against the Bulls, Irving scored 45 points in a 121-111 overtime win against the Pistons. He averaged 27.4 points during the 2019-20 season.
1. Deron Williams: 57 points vs. Charlotte on Mar. 4, 2012
Back when Charlotte was still the Bobcats and not the Hornets, guard Deron Williams went off for a franchise-record 57 points in a narrow 104-101 win. The Nets came back after being down by as many as 16 points.
Williams scored 40 points in the second half and knocked down two free throws with 20 seconds left in the game to hit 57 points. He shot 16-of-29 from the floor and made all 21 of his free throw attempts.
The lockout had shortened the team’s final season in New Jersey, but Williams made sure to go out with a bang before the team moved to Brooklyn. It was a dismal season for the Nets, as they went on to finish 22-44, 12th in the East.
Next up for Durant? A 60-point game. And we wouldn’t put it past him.