Kevin Durant turned in the most productive Game 7 performance in NBA playoffs history, but it was not enough to get the Brooklyn Nets through against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Brooklyn's 115-111 overtime loss in the Eastern Conference semi-finals decider saw the exhausted Nets give everything they had before the visitors prevailed in the end.
Durant scored a Game 7-record 48 points but could not do it all as a Brooklyn team missing the injured Kyrie Irving did not have enough weapons in the end.
"We've got to give credit to the Milwaukee Bucks," Durant told reporters. "They're a great, great team who've got a good chance to win a championship.
"The story should be about them and how well they played this series -- how well they played all year."
Though Milwaukee ultimately prevailed, few have performed better than Durant on the big stage.
With little in the way of a supporting cast, he played all 53 minutes in defeat after carrying the hobbled Nets through the series as Irving missed the decider and James Harden played the entire game though he has not been fully healthy for some time.
"I can't even speak about how much we missed Kyrie out on the floor and how much we missed James to start the series," Durant said.
"I could go for 40 minutes on both of those two and how much they care about us and how much they put their bodies on the line to help us out as a team.
"Kyrie had a gruesome ankle injury and he was thinking about when can he play next -- that shows that he cares about us so much.
"James, playing on one leg, came out there and gave it his all. ... There's nothing but respect and love for those two guys; we missed them out there. But we still had a chance to win."
Top Performers: KD | James pic.twitter.com/obsCcGDuCR— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) June 20, 2021
The second-seeded Nets ultimately came up short, as head coach Steve Nash ran out of options to help ease the load on Durant.
"We didn't have a lot of buttons to push at the end in this series," Nash said. "But we had a chance to win, so that's all you can ask for."
Now the Nets are left to look forward rather than back, as they can only hope they will be at full strength this time next year.
"We want to win every game we play, we want to win a championship, just like every team," said Durant.
"So the last game of the season, you lose ... but the beauty of our profession is, we get up and keep going.
"Everybody on this team works extremely hard, they care about the game, so we get ready for next year."