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Kevin Durant logs historic triple-double, carries Nets over Bucks

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant scored 20 of his game-high 49 points in the fourth quarter of a win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Jason Szenes/EPA-EFE
Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant scored 20 of his game-high 49 points in the fourth quarter of a win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Jason Szenes/EPA-EFE

June 16 (UPI) -- Kevin Durant showed why he is arguably the best basketball player on the planet with a 49-point, 17-rebound, 10 assist triple-double performance to lead the Brooklyn Nets to a vital playoff win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Durant's made 16 of 23 shots from the field and 4 of 9 3-point attempts in the 114-108 triumph Tuesday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The two-time NBA Finals MVP is the first player in history to post at least 45 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game.

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"I didn't think about anything other that each possession," Durant told reporters. "I was just trying to win every possession."

The Nets win in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals series puts them one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals.

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The Nets played the game without injured guard Kyrie Irving, while fellow All-Star James Harden played through a hamstring injury.

Durant hit a jump shot 31 seconds into the game to give the Nets an early lead, but the Bucks responded with a 12-0 run. The Bucks led 29-15 at the end of the first quarter.

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Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 11 points apiece in the second quarter. The Bucks pushed their advantage to a game-high 17 points in the frame and led 59-43 at halftime.

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Durant scored another 11 points in the third frame, when the Nets outscored the Bucks 38-28 to cut the lead to six points at the start of the fourth quarter.

The 11-time All-Star saved his best effort for the final 12 minutes.

Brook Lopez dunked to start the quarter, which pushed the Bucks' lead back to nine points. Durant then sparked a 10-2 run to tie the score at 91-91. Durant followed with a series of eight-consecutive points to give the Nets a 97-96 lead with 7:54 remaining.

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The Bucks rallied to tie the score at 104-104 with 1:27 remaining. Harden made two free throws to push the Nets' lead back to two points. Antetokounmpo could have tied the game at the free throw line, but missed one of his two attempts.

Durant answered with a clutch 3-pointer to push the Nets' lead to four points with 50 seconds remaining. He added two free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

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Durant totaled 20 points in the fourth quarter. He made 6 of 9 shot attempts overall and 3 of 5 3-point attempts in the final frame.

Jeff Green chipped in 27 points off the Nets bench, which outscored the Bucks bench 36-15 in the win. Nets center Blake Griffin scored 17 points.

Antetokounmpo scored 34 points with 12 rebounds for the Bucks. Bucks guard Khris Middleton scored 25 points. Jrue Holiday posted 19 points and eight assists in the loss.

''He's the best player in the world right now, and we've got to beat him as a team,'' Antetokounmpo told reporters, when asked about Durant. ''We've got to guard him as a team. We've got to make him make tough shots like [Tuesday].

"We've just got to keep doing our job, and hopefully he's going to miss.''

The Bucks host the Nets in Game 6 at 8:30 p.m. EDT Thursday at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. The winner of the series faces the Philadelphia 76ers or Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

"We have our work cut out for is in Game 6," Durant said. "It's going to be the toughest game of the year."

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