Starting Five: D-ing up on KD

Shaun Livingston on guarding Kevin Durant: "We gotta be ready to step up and take the challenge." Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports

Using NBA.com’s stats tool, I looked at each of Kevin Durant's 13 field goal attempts Jan. 2 and compiled his (unofficial) shooting splits based on which Brooklyn Net was guarding him each time:

Shaun Livingston: 4-for-9

Andrei Kirilenko: 3-for-3

Wide open: 1-for-1

Durant, who was in foul trouble, finished with just 24 points in 34 minutes that night, and the Nets were able to turn their season around in Oklahoma City with a 95-93 win over the Thunder on Joe Johnson's buzzer-beater.

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

#35 SF
Oklahoma City Thunder

2014 STATS

  • GM46
  • PPG31.3

  • RPG7.8

  • APG5.2

  • FG%.510

  • FT%.882

Livingston also caused or helped force three turnovers by Durant.

“Honestly, it was a team effort. I just tried to get up and make him feel uncomfortable,” Livingston said. “Russell [Westbrook] had just went down, so they were trying to figure it out. It was kind of circumstances, but they’re a totally different team and he’s a totally different player right now.”

Durant, of course, is playing out of his mind right now, averaging 38 points on 54.4 percent shooting in his past 12 games.

“Anything over half court, it’s like, an option [for him to score]. It’s like a video game right now,” said Livingston, who feels Durant is the best offensive player in the NBA. “But, again, it’s a team effort, whether it’s me, Alan [Anderson] or Kirilenko. We gotta be ready to step up and take the challenge.”

The Nets are 10-2 in January, and their improved defense is one of the main reasons; they are giving up 5.8 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did in their first 31 games.

Brooklyn has gone to a smaller, longer starting lineup featuring Livingston (6-7), Anderson (6-6), Johnson (6-7), Paul Pierce (6-7) and Kevin Garnett (6-11).

“You just wanna always keep a body on a guy like that at all times, so like when we do switch, it’s not that easy -- like coming off a screen wide-open because of our type of pick-and-roll coverages,” Livingston said. “We’re switching and we’re up. And so now if it’s not me, he has to go around, it’s KG, Paul or somebody.”

You really can’t give Durant any room to operate.

“Showing [on pick and rolls], getting the ball out of his hands, putting pressure on him and, late game, making him find his teammates,” Livingston said. “Because we know he can beat us, but trying to make his teammates -- not to say that they’re not capable, but if you gotta pick, I’m gonna roll my dice on them.”

In case you missed it: Deron Williams probably won't start Friday, AK-47 underwent an MRI and Andray Blatche is eyeing a spot on the Filipino national team.

Visiting a friend: Mason Plumlee, Marquis Teague and Matt Riccardi went to visit Brook Lopez. Looks like Lopez (season-ending foot injury) is in good spirits.

Stat of the day: This season, the Nets have outscored their opponents by 47 points with D-Will on the court. Without him, Brooklyn has been outscored by seven points. Their offense rating is 108.8 (points per 100 possessions) with Williams, 83.7 without him. Field goal percentage splits: 49.2 with/43.2 without. Credit to ESPN Stats & Information for these.

Up next: Nets versus Thunder.