On February 1, 2019, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson made the last page of the New York Post – a trio wearing New York Knicks uniforms.
The Christaps Porzingis store acted as a precursor to something better. James Dolan certainly meant it when he entered ESPN’s radio studios on the west side.
More than two years later, Durant, Irving and Williams finally appeared together on the same field – it just wasn’t at Madison Square Garden.
There is no reason to revisit everything that happened. No Knicks fan wants to hear that again. Their fierce team full of success is too busy trying to stay in the playoffs, although a 1-4 gap didn’t help. Simply, ‘The Bockers don’t have a star closer.
But Durant and Irving also have bigger things to worry about.
On Wednesday night, Durant returned to the squad after missing 23 games due to a tendon injury. For the second time in his career – and for the second time this season – he came off the bench. It worked. Durant finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists in 19 minutes, and the Brooklyn Nets scored a 139-111 victory over Williamson’s recaptured New Orleans Pelicans at Barclays Center.
The Nets needed good news. The team mismanaged James Harden’s knee tendon injury, forcing him to be removed for an additional 10 days. A KD who looks like his old self after a long absence has certainly qualified. Irving, who has the best statistical season of his career, scored 24 points.
Bruklyn’s insult hummed. The Nets shot 55.4 percent, pumped 79 points in the first half and drained 19 three-pointers, while assisting for 37 of the 51 buckets made. One possession of a “five out” even resulted in the ball swinging all over the perimeter before Joe Harris drove and hit the cutting LaMarcus Aldridge for a setup. Basketball the way it was supposed to be played.
“It’s not hard to play basketball with Kevin Durant,” Steve Nash said.
Durant was announced as the starter before the last-minute change sent him to the bench. Nash explained that he wanted to manage Durant’s minutes, while he could deploy his star forward during the second half if the game was close. It wasn’t close.
Durant signed up at 7:37 from the second quarter and received a standing ovation from the audience. After all, it was the first time he had ever played in front of Brooklyn fans at home for rehabilitation due to injury and a pandemic. Durant’s mom – Wanda called “The Real MVP” – stood up and looked delighted when she saw her son return to the floor. Then Durant went to work. He turned the ball six times, but shot a perfect 5 for 5 from the field.
“I expected to come out here and play the way I played,” said Durant, who hugged his mother well after the last beep sounded. “I wasn’t trying to make the game easier.”
Chemistry will be a key path to the playoffs. The composition around Durant is certainly different. Newcomers Aldridge (22) and Blake Griffin (10) together for 32 points. The goal is for Durant, Irving and Harden to play in the same game again. Preferably more than one. That has not happened since February 5.
On the other hand, a series of Williamson who scored 20 or more points while shooting 50 or more percent ended up in 25 consecutive games. He scored 16 points on a 4 to 12 shot.
KD, Kyrie and Zion would be something. At least their Knicks legacy will live on forever – Photoshopped in the tabloids.