Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving scored 32 points apiece as the Brooklyn Nets pushed their NBA winning streak to nine games Monday with a 125-117 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Brooklyn edged ahead of the Cavs for third place in the Eastern Conference, withstanding a late Cleveland surge even after Durant fouled out with 1:54 left to play.
The Nets were up by 10 when Durant departed after he was whistled for an offensive foul while driving to the basket.
Irving, who played a key role alongside LeBron James in Cleveland’s 2016 championship run, had the last word against his former team.
Darius Garland’s floater cut the deficit to four points with 44 seconds remaining, but Irving made a pair of free throws and Brooklyn’s Nic Claxton came up with a big block and the Nets held on.
The Nets’ nine-game winning streak is their longest since a 14-game streak in the 2005-06 season. They have won 14 of their last 15 games.
In the first half, Durant passed former San Antonio Spurs great Tim Duncan for 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list as the Nets built a quick lead.
“To be able to pass an all-time great, legend — somebody who changed the game — that’s something I’ll call my folks about tonight,” Durant said. “I want to celebrate those small things, but keep pressing forward.
“I know I’ve got more to do.”
The Cavs cut a 13-point deficit to one with 3:54 left in the first half, but the Nets responded with a vengeance to lead 65-49 at the break.
Garland scored 18 of his 46 points in the fourth to keep the Cavs in it, but Cleveland star Donovan Mitchell was held to just 15 points.
TJ Warren added 23 points off the bench for Brooklyn and Royce O’Neale, Claxton and Yuta Watanabe scored 10 each as the Nets became just the second Eastern Conference team to beat Cleveland on their home floor this season.
Brooklyn’s surge follows a dismal season start, the sacking of coach Steve Nash and the anti-Semitism row that engulfed Irving.
Current coach Jacque Vaughn said the secret to the turnaround was simple.
“Each day we try to gather as a team and think how we can get better,” he said. “It is as simple as ‘we’re going to try to get a win’ that day.”
In Detroit, the Los Angeles Clippers dominated overtime to beat the Pistons 142-131.
Clippers guard Paul George scored seven of his game-high 32 points in the extra session as Los Angeles came out on top of a back-and-forth battle.
It had looked to be going the other way when Detroit pushed their lead to 14 with 3:34 to play and the Clippers took George out of the game.
But the Pistons made just two free throws in the remainder of regulation and the Clippers surged — Terance Mann making his first basket of the game to force overtime.
Heat hang on
In New Orleans, Naji Marshall scored a career-high 22 points to lead the short-handed Pelicans in a 113-93 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Jonas Valanciunas had 20 points and 12 rebounds and CJ McCollum scored 19 for the Pelicans, who were without leading scorer Zion Williamson as well as Brandon Ingram.
The Miami Heat, playing without Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, held on to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-110.
Max Strus led the Heat with 19 points and Kyle Lowry added 18. Tyler Herro’s 14 points included a jump shot from the corner over Austin Rivers with 33.2 seconds left that put Miami up 113-108.
Anthony Edwards, who scored 29 points for Minnesota, drove for a basket that pulled the Timberwolves within three, but they could get no closer.
In San Antonio, Devin Vassell scored 24 points and Keldon Johnson added 21 as the Spurs held on late for a 126-122 victory over the Utah Jazz.
The Spurs led by 14 with 2:36 remaining. Utah, fueled by 32 points and 12 rebounds from Lauri Markkanen, twice cut the deficit to three before the Spurs closed it out.
World Cup News
World Cup hosts Qatar announced Friday that national coach Felix Sanchez had been let...
French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera on Friday accused Argentine players of being “inelegant winners”...