Durant, Nets beat Cavs, in position to take No. 7 in East

NEW YORK (AP) — After a rocky season, things are finally easy for the Brooklyn Nets.

He wins two games at home and is in the playoffs.

Kevin Durant scored 36 points, leading a pair of fourth-quarter drives that lifted the Nets to a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 118-107 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

The Nets trailed the Cavaliers 43-38 with one game remaining and clinched the tiebreaker. They will finish seventh if they beat Indiana on Sunday in their final game of the regular season. The No. 7 team hosts the No. 8 on Tuesday, advancing to the playoffs with a win.

Brooklyn put itself in position for that by regaining control in the fourth quarter and holding Cleveland to 19 points.

“Racing game. We did ours early, we got hit in the mouth and I liked how we responded,” Durant said. “So that’s been the nature of our season. Just getting knocked down and seeing how we respond and I thought tonight was a good example of how we can respond.”

The loser of the 7-8 game gets a second chance at the postseason by beating the winner of the game between the No. 9 and 10 teams on Friday.

The Nets didn’t think they’d have to worry about any of that. But between Durant missing 21 games with a sprained knee, Irving missing many more because he’s not vaccinated against the coronavirus and was unable to play in New York until recently, and the midseason trade for James Harden, they never became the intended power. .

“That’s the past,” Irving said. “Now we just control what we can control and get ready to play.”

Irving overcame a poor shooting night to finish with 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Bruce Brown had 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Nets, who won their third straight game. Andre Drummond had 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland (10) pushes Brooklyn Nets forward Bruce Brown (1) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, April 8, 2022, in New York.

Darius Garland scored 31 points for the Cavaliers, who lost for the third straight time. He brought back rookie Evan Mobley after a five-game absence with a sprained left ankle, but they are still without All-Star center Jarrett Allen because of a broken finger that has sidelined him for nearly a year. month.

“I’m proud of the way they played and proud of the effort they played, the way they kept coming back and staying in the game,” Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff said. “We had some misses, especially in that fourth quarter and when you have great players like them, they make you pay.”

Mobley and Lauri Markkanen each had 17 points.

“I just went out there and played,” Mobley said. “I wasn’t trying to think too much about not playing and things like that, so I was really playing my game and I feel like it was pretty easy tonight, fitting in pretty comfortable from the start of the game.”

Durant scored 16 points in the first quarter, but the Cavaliers defended well in the intervening two periods and led 93-89 at the start of the quarter. Durant then hit a go-ahead 3-pointer during a 10-0 run that made it 99-93.

Cleveland scored the next two baskets, but Durant made 3 more to start an 8-0 run that put Brooklyn in control 107-97 with about 4 1/2 minutes remaining.

Durant was 6-for-7 in the first quarter and the Nets led 34-19. Cleveland cut it to 62-54 at the half.

TIPS

Cavaliers: Cedi Osman turned 27. … Former Nets forward Caris LeVert had 16 points. … Garland on Allen’s possible return: “We’re scary with or without him.”

Nets: Coach Steve Nash, on the decision to part with veteran James Johnson on Thursday: “There are a lot of tough decisions throughout the year, so that’s just another tough decision and sometimes it’s a little bit unforeseen where they’re going to go.” things and the decision was made.”

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR?

Bickerstaff said he wasn’t offended by the idea that the top teams in the East might have been trying to avoid the Nets and would rather face his young team.

“I mean, the perception or the reality of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and the pieces that are around this team and the way they’re coached, you can understand why people would want to do that,” Bickerstaff said. “But I’ll tell you this, if we’re healthy, we’re not a team that people want to play against.”

WAITING FOR ALLEN

Garland on possibly getting Allen back before the postseason:

“We are scary with it or without it. A lot of teams that probably don’t want to see us with him or without him, so if we get him back, great. If we don’t, great. We still have basketball games to play.”

UNTIL NEXT TIME

Cavaliers: host Milwaukee on Sunday.

Nets: Host Indiana on Sunday.

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