MIAMI -- Brooklyn Nets star forward Kevin Durant was ruled out of the team's 102-101 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday after injuring his right knee in the third quarter.
Durant is expected to undergo an MRI on Monday, according to Nets coach Jacque Vaughn.
The injury occurred with 1:05 left in the third quarter as Heat swingman Jimmy Butler went to the rim and got his shot blocked by Nets big man Ben Simmons. Butler fell back into Durant's knee, and Durant stayed on the ground for a few moments but remained in the game.
Durant kept rubbing at the knee up and down the floor and had to be taken out when the Nets called a timeout about 30 seconds later. Durant immediately walked straight back to the locker room to get checked out and did not return.
"I was right there. Those plays are scary," Nets guard Kyrie Irving said after the game. "Because when someone's not looking [at] what's going on, anything can happen in those moments, so I'm grateful that all that time he's put in the weight room, putting his body in a great position, his body was able to save him from something worse."
The Nets, who have won 18 of their past 20 games, were trying to remain positive that Durant's injury wouldn't be too serious.
"He's in good spirits as we all are," Irving said of Durant. "The strength of our team is us picking each other up. Just being ready for whatever's thrown at us. ... I think one of the greatest qualities of our team is our bench and the way we support each other, despite who's in the lineup. And now it's time to go out and exemplify that until we find out the timeline with K and when he could be available again. So we just got to be mature about it."
The Nets did not make Durant available to reporters after the game.
While it remains unclear how serious the injury is, this isn't the first time Durant has dealt with a knee issue. Durant injured the MCL in his left knee during a Jan. 15, 2022, win over the New Orleans Pelicans and had to miss over 1½ months while rehabbing. During his rehab, the Nets, who were 27-15 at the time and still playing with Irving on a part-time basis because of the New York City vaccination mandate, were 5-17 in Durant's absence, including an 11-game losing streak.
Durant also missed over a month in 2017 when he sprained an MCL and suffered a tibial bone bruise when former Golden State Warriors teammate Zaza Pachulia accidentally fell into his knee.
The Nets know that if Durant has to miss a stretch of games everything will change for the group -- on both ends of the floor.
"He is a focal point for us offensively, but even defensively he's been an elite rim protector this year," Nets guard Joe Harris said. "He guards the best players. Obviously, it would be a massive blow for us [if he's out], but at the same time it presents opportunities for everybody else and we have a lot of depth for reasons like this, for everybody just to step up and collectively try and fill that void."
Added Nets center Nic Claxton: "I think everybody just will have to step up. This is not the first time that he's been out or Ky has been out. Everybody will just have to step up a little bit, and we'll be all right. We hope he's available for next game, but whatever happens we'll adjust and we'll be all right."
Durant has vaulted himself into the MVP conversation this season by averaging 30 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists -- leading the Nets back toward the top of the Eastern Conference after a tumultuous start to the season on and off the floor.
The Nets' next game is Thursday at home against the Boston Celtics, but the tenor of their season will be set in large part based on what the Monday test says about Durant's knee.
"It doesn't feel good emotionally to be honest with you," Irving said of seeing his friend Durant go down. "With K we know what we're up against with him not being in the lineup. We could say it every single day. We don't have time for any excuses, we just got to keep moving forward and staying mature about it, like I said."