Kevin Durant is happy to overtake Allen Iverson on the scorer list
BOSTON — Nets star Kevin Durant said it “means the world” to him as he passed Hall of Famer Allen Iverson for the 25th spot on the NBA’s scorers list during Brooklyn’s win. 123-104 over the Celtics here at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
Durant said after scoring 21 points for the Nets improving 14-5 leadership 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 was the pantheon for me. One of those guys that I emulate every time I went out and played with my buddies. My friends. All Something surreal. I imagined I’d be in the league and have an idea… but doing it is a very special thing.”
For Durant, the meaning of moving to Iverson is twofold. Not only was he a kid when Iverson debuted on the NBA scene in the 1996-97 season, but he grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, earning a front row seat to the exploits of Iverson College in Georgetown.
Growing up, Durant said, even as he played for his childhood teams, he still tried to emulate Iverson’s signature Cross.
“I’ve really become a huge fan of Iverson, obviously, like everyone else in his rookie year. But seeing him in Georgetown and playing for coach [John] Thomson and all the culture that they built there was a big part of that. Durant said. But once he got into the league, he had players… I was central and a force forward for my young team, and we were all going through the long, double crosses. It affected a lot of people.
“So getting on the list and being with some of the greats on that list is amazing. I have to move on.”
Durant, who beat Iverson with his first basket of game on Wednesday night and has a chance of moving into the top 20 all-time scorer this season, the Nets maintained their winning streak recently with a performance against the Celtics (10-9), who entered the game by winning eight of their 11 games before To lose up to 29 points against Brooklyn.
Adding an extra layer of satisfaction to Durant’s win was facing Im Odoka, the Celtics coach who served as an assistant coach with both the Nets last season and Team USA under Greg Popovich this summer. Durant admitted that there had been some “friendly” dirty talk between the two during the match, and that winning here in Boston was even sweeter because Odoka was on the other side.
“Last year and during the Olympics, me and I got close,” Durant said. “So he just talks about friendly trash. I mean, he talks to me a lot. Yeah, so it helps, I think there’s a competition between us two teams. We’ll all be at the end of the season.”
“It was nice to beat Im. I’m excited to come here and win in Boston. It’s a tough place to play. But now that Im a coach, it’s even sweeter.”
The Nets, who are surprisingly sixth in the NBA in the defensive rankings, grabbed Boston at 37.4 percent of shooting overall and 11 of 48 from a 3-point range, including Boston star striker Jason Tatum and Jaylene Brown who finished 9 of 31 from and 1 out of 17 out of a 3-point range.
“It’s not scary at all,” said Brown, who was a game-time decision as he continues to recover from a hamstring strain that cost him eight games before returning on Monday with a victory over the Houston Rockets. “We played basketball well and we have to keep playing well.
“We can’t let this defeat dictate the next four, five, six or 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 35 3-pointers, prompted James Harden to call Brooklyn’s most complete game of the season on Wednesday.
“Absolutely,” said Harden, who finished the game 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 that.”
Now, Brooklyn is back home with the Phoenix Suns, one of the two teams, along with league leaders 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 win for Golden State, Durant emphasized that Saturday’s game, win or lose, isn’t all that important in terms of showing where the nets are. Stop.
“We evaluate our identity every day,” Durant said. “We understand that these teams are coming and the teams are playing well. But this November. I mean, all the teams want to be in good shape in that round in the middle of the season, where the playoffs start.
“I’m not saying we want to give up a game, but win or lose, I don’t think that tells us much about where we’re going as a team, you know what I’m saying? But obviously we want to get out there and stick to our principles and keep improving in these things. Outside Looking in, I understand the records and narratives about games and stuff. But I don’t think that can tell us much about what might happen in the future.”