Kevin Durant is no stranger to putting the Brooklyn Nets on his back. With his team marred by internal dysfunction and injuries over the last season-plus, Durant’s brilliance has remained the one constant in Brooklyn’s hopes of contending.

Monday was another one of those nights for Durant.

The former MVP dropped 45 points on 19-of-24 shooting in a 109-102 win over the Orlando Magic, willing his team back to the .500 mark for the second time this season. Minutes after capping off his season-best performance, Durant was asked when he knows he is going to be in a next-level groove.

“When I wake up,” he calmly replied.

There was not a shot on the floor Durant couldn’t hit during the win. Posting up and fading away, crossing defenders over, pulling up from three, driving to the rim, the fourth-year Net navigated Orlando’s defense with ease.

When asked if he ever finds himself watching Kevin Durant in awe during such a performance, Kyrie Irving couldn’t help but say yes.

“Oh yeah all the time,” Irving replied. “I think it’s a natural reaction when you’re seeing something special occur in front of you. You do your best to still be engaged but it’s hard not to just stare and just watch somebody that special and talented. We know what he’s capable of, but when he shows his talent tonight it’s definitely an honor to be a part of. Grateful to be his teammate.”

With Brooklyn leading by one at halftime, Durant ascended to another level down the stretch, scoring 28 points on 12 of 13 shooting in the second half. Despite his incredible shooting night, the 12-time All-Star said he has no difficulties playing within the flow of the offense on a night like Monday.

“I just keep playing within the flow because, respectfully, I feel like I’m always on,” Durant said. “Even if I’m not making shots that night, I feel like my jump shot is always sharp. So I don’t want to get in the way of the game too much by putting my head down and scoring because the team’s gonna make adjustments.

“They might start doubling me now, so I just got to see how the game has been played, see how the defense is being played, what my teammates are doing as well. It’s a lot to think about out there but it’s a fun mental game that I play.”

While his offensive numbers will dominate the discourse surrounding the game, Durant’s impact far exceeded his scoring. The veteran’s defense in the win was a key factor in Brooklyn’s ability to separate in the second half.

Kevin Durant is having one of the most efficient starts to a season in his career. The 34-year-old has scored 25-plus points in 20 of 22 games to open the year and leads the NBA in field goal percentage (54.8) among players attempting 18 or more shots per game.

Despite his advanced age, the 15th-year veteran leads the league in minutes this season. Head coach Jacque Vaughn said Durant’s ability to shoulder the workload is a testament to the dedication he shows to his body.

“He just keeps doing it. At this stage and age of his career, (with) the minutes he’s played and what he did last night to lead us into a win, it’s huge,” Vaughn noted of Durant’s performance. “I think it shows the preparation that he puts into his body. Just what he feels about the game, he approaches it like: we have to win this game. He led us tonight. Unbelievable effort. Took a lot out of him, but he’ll recharge and be able to do it another day from here.”

Unlike several other herculean efforts from Durant this season, his teammates came to back him up down the stretch of the win. With Orlando mounting a late comeback, Nic Claxton made several momentum-shifting plays to maintain the Brooklyn lead.

The fourth-year big man closed the game by scoring Brooklyn’s final five points on his way to 17 for the night.

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Claxton’s physicality in the win jumped off the screen as he finished with a game-high 13 rebounds, five of which were offensive, and three blocks.

“Just staying active, making sure that I’m putting my imprint on the game,” Claxton said of his mindset down the stretch. “Whether it’s finishing around the rim or offensive rebounds, just making sure I’m doing something out there on the court.”

Kyrie Irving paced Durant with 20 points on 9 of 17 shooting. Joe Harris continued his three-point struggles, shooting 2 of 8 from deep, but made an impact driving to the rim and running the floor on his way to a season-high 17 points.

“I think it immediately shows the confidence that we have in him, the trust that we have in him,” Vaughn said of his decision to leave Harris in to close the game. “Even when he’s not making shots, he’s going to be in the right place, do the right thing, be in the right coverage majority of the time, and that’s important in team sports. The shots are going to come around. I think we all believe it’s going to come around, at least I do.”

Ben Simmons exited during the second quarter and was quickly ruled out with left knee soreness. Simmons missed four games with soreness and swelling in the same knee earlier this season. Vaughn called Simmons day-to-day and said the team will monitor the degree of discomfort in the knee Tuesday.

Monday’s win marks Brooklyn’s second in two nights to open a seven-game homestand. The Nets will look to climb over .500 for the first time this season as they close the week with matchups against Washington, Toronto and Boston.