BOSTON – Nets star Kevin Durant said it “means the world” to him passing Hall of Famer Allen Iverson for 25th on the NBA’s all-time scorers list during Brooklyn’s win. 123-104 over the Celtics here at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
“I mean, it means the world. I dedicated my life to this game at a young age … so I saw all these guys that I like to pass up,” Durant said after scoring 21 points for the Nets, who improved to a 14-5 leader in the Eastern Conference.
“I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be in the NBA like them, and have an impact in the league like them. So Iverson, he was the pantheon for me. One of those guys that I emulated every time I went out and played with my friends. Friends. Everything is surreal. I imagined I would be in the League and I had an idea … but doing it is very special. “
For Durant, the meaning of moving to Iverson is twofold. Not only was he a kid when Iverson first burst onto the NBA scene in the 1996-97 season, but growing up in the Washington, DC area, he earned a front row seat to Iverson’s college exploits in Georgetown. .
Durant said that growing up, even when playing center on his childhood teams, he was still trying to emulate Iverson’s signature crossover.
“I really became a huge Iverson fan, obviously, like everyone else in his rookie year. But seeing him in Georgetown and playing for coach [John] Thompson and all the culture they built there, it was a big part of that. “Durant said.” But once he got into the league, he had players … I was a center, a power forward for my young team, and We were all crossing long and double crosses. It influenced a lot of people.
“So getting on the list and being up there with some of the greats on that list is amazing. I have to move on.”
Durant, who outpointed Iverson with his first basket of the game Wednesday night and has a chance to move into the top 20 scorers of all time this season, and the Nets maintained their winning streak recently with his performance against the Celtics (10 -9), who had entered the game with wins in eight of their previous 11 games before losing as many as 29 points to Brooklyn.
Adding an extra layer of satisfaction to Durant’s victory was facing Ime Udoka, the Celtics coach who served as an assistant coach with both the Nets last season and with Team USA under Gregg Popovich this summer. . Durant admitted there was some “friendly” trash talk between the two during the game, and that getting a win here in Boston was made even sweeter because Udoka was on the opposite side.
“Me and I were close last year and during the Olympics,” Durant said. “So he just talks friendly trash. I mean, he talks to me a lot. Yeah, so it helps, I guess there is competition between us two teams. We will all be around at the end of the season.
“It was good to beat Ime. I’m excited to come here and win in Boston. It’s a tough place to play. But now that Ime is a coach, it makes it even sweeter.”
The Nets, who are surprisingly sixth in the NBA in defensive rating, held Boston to 37.4 percent shooting overall and 11 of 48 from 3-point range, including the Boston star forward tandem of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown who finished 9 of 31 from the field and 1 of 17 from 3-point range.
“It’s not daunting at all,” said Brown, who was a game-time decision as he continues to rebound from the hamstring strain that cost him eight games before returning Monday in a win over the Houston Rockets. “We have been playing basketball well and we have to continue to play well.
“We cannot allow this defeat to dictate the rest of the next four, five, six, seven games. We have to recover. That’s what good teams do.”
Brooklyn’s defensive performance, along with the Nets shooting more than 50 percent from the field and hitting 14 of their 35 3-pointers, prompted James Harden to call Brooklyn’s most complete game of the season on Wednesday.
“Definitely,” said Harden, who finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists and two steals. “I mean, so far. It’s only been 20 games or so. But so far, yeah, and we can continue to build on this.”
Now, Brooklyn returns home with a showdown against the Phoenix Suns, one of the two teams, along with the league-leading Golden State Warriors, with a better record than the Nets so far this season. But while last week’s game in Brooklyn between the Warriors and the Nets resulted in a lopsided victory for Golden State, Durant emphasized that Saturday’s game, win or lose, is not of enormous importance in terms of showing the Nets where. They were. stop.
“We evaluate who we are every day,” Durant said. “We understand that these teams are coming and the teams are playing well. But this is November. I mean, all the teams want to be in shape in that round in the middle of the season, as the playoffs are starting to come.
“I’m not saying we want to give away any games, but win or lose, I don’t think this tells us much about where we’re headed as a team, you know what I’m saying? But obviously we want to go out there and stick to our principles and keep improving. on those things. From the outside looking in, I understand the records and the narratives around the games and stuff. But I don’t think this can tell us too much about what may happen in the future. “