By Lenn Robbins, The New York Extra/TheNYExtra.com
They were so easy to dislike, these Brooklyn Nets, a team of mercenaries hired to win the franchise’s first NBA title. But after the Nets remarkably resilient win in Game 7 of its Eastern Conference against the Milwaukee Bucks, this must be agreed upon:
This team has earned any compliments it receives but none more so than respect.
Trailing by four with 43 seconds remaining in regulation and playing without Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant put an entire borough on his back. His off-balance jumper with one second left forced overtime but it wasn’t enough to outlast the Bucks, losing 114-111, in Barclays Center.
The Nets became one of the favorites to win the title when James Harden joined KD and Irving. But Irving was out with a sprained ankle and Harden was limited by a hamstring injury. It was almost Durant to the rescue. He scored 48 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had six assists, the most points scored in a Game 7 in NBA history.
But more impressive was this: Durant, finding a reserve few athletes can match, played all 53 minutes. He played 133 of 141 minutes in the last three games. Durant had a chance to tie it or win it in overtime but he shot an airball on a long two.
“I said a couple of days ago he’s the best player in the world,” said Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 40 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and had five assists.
“He’s till the best player in the world.”
And Harden’s heart can never be questioned. He came up just short of a triple down with 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. He also played all 53 minutes.
The Bucks will play the winner of the 76ers-Hawks series. The Nets can only hope to keep their three stars healthy next season and get that title.