But they inevitably didn't, because Kevin Durant didn't let them.
On a night that saw Zach Randolph drop 38 points—the most he's ever scored with Memphis Grizzlies—and grab 22 rebounds in an overtime victory against the Phoenix Suns as well as one that saw a 34-point outburst for Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, there was Durant.
Oklahoma City's star forward remained relentless in his cause as the Thunder navigated the court against an equally ferocious Brooklyn team and crowd.
Ultimately, however, there was nothing the Nets or their crowd could do that would prevent Durant from carrying his team toward their 15th victory of the season.
Stat Line: 32 points, five rebounds, six assists, one steal and one blocked shot on 56.3 percent shooting.
"Dominantly efficient" doesn't even begin to describe the game Durant had in Brooklyn.
Not only did Durant shoot 56.3 percent from the field—and the Thunder hit on 60.6 percent of their shots overall—but he did so while attempting just 16 shots and going a perfect 12-of-12 from the free throw line.
Oklahoma City seem poised for a collapse as it all but watched its once 16-point lead disappear, but Durant himself refused to give up. He kept attacking, kept defending and, most importantly, kept executing.
Yes, what appeared on its way to being an easy victory turned into a dogfight, but Durant excels when the game is on the line or his team's back is up against the wall. And Tuesday night's bout against the Nets proved to be no different.
It's easy to look at his 32 points and picture-perfect free-throw percentage and get lost. After all, his voluminous-yet-efficient point-totaling performance was nothing short of mesmerizing.
Bear in mind, however, that he also wouldn't stop looking for his teammates. He dished out six assists to go along with Russell Westbrook's nine, and committed just one turnover in the process. Considering he coughs the ball up 3.3 times a contest on average, that's only further proof of just how masterful a night Durant had.
It didn't matter that Brooklyn had a 16-2 edge on the offensive glass. It didn't matter that Deron Williams scored a season-high 33 points. And it didn't matter that the Thunder allowed the Nets to connect on 14 three-pointers, twice as many as Durant and company.
All that mattered was that Durant kept fighting. The Thunder as a collective may have become complacent once they built a 16-point lead, once they took a 13-point lead into halftime. But Durant didn't.
His effort never wavered, his sense of urgency never vacated. And the Thunder were able to hold on because of him, because of the 42 hard-fought minutes he logged.
Sure, Serge Ibaka blocked three shots to go along with 18 points and yes, Westbrook dropped 25 points of his own, but this victory doesn't happen without Durant, without his other-worldly accuracy from the field and without his unflappable motivation.
Randolph had a monstrous night, but it took an extra period for he and the Grizzlies to defeat a lowly Suns team. Kobe continues to be Kobe, but even his performance wasn't enough uphold a 13-point lead against a mediocre Houston Rockets team.
Durant, however, ensured his team didn't need overtime to beat the Nets; he ensured that they didn't relinquish their lead.
His team posted a plus-16 with him on the floor and fittingly enough, he was the one that willed them to victory over the Eastern Conference's third-best team.
That means something.
For the prevailing Thunder, it meant everything.
All stats in this article are accurate as of December 4, 2012.
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