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Kyrie Irving, Nets hold off Cavs to win 9th straight

Dec 26, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers forward Lamar Stevens (8) during the first half at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving scored 15 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter as the Brooklyn Nets survived a shaky finish and extended their winning streak to a season-high nine games with a 125-117 victory over the host Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.

The Nets are on their longest winning streak since a franchise-record 14-game run spanning from March 12-April 6, 2006, when the team was based in New Jersey and coach Jacque Vaughn played for the team. Brooklyn also matched the Boston Celtics for the NBA’s longest winning streak this season.

On the 11th anniversary of his NBA debut with Cleveland, Irving made 11 of 19 shots and hit seven 3-pointers as Brooklyn took a pair of 19-point leads before withstanding Cleveland’s late comeback try that featured several big shots by Darius Garland, who led all scorers with 46 points.

Kevin Durant scored 32 points but fouled out for the sixth time in his career when he bumped Garland with 1:54 remaining. Durant also moved past Tim Duncan for 15th place on the all-time scoring list and ended the night at 26,516 career points.

Reserve T.J. Warren added a season-high 23 points as Brooklyn led for the final 42-plus minutes and shot 57.3 percent from the field.

Garland scored 18 of his points in the fourth, including a jumper in the lane that made it 121-117 with 44 seconds left. After two free throws by Irving, Garland was blocked in the lane by Nic Claxton with 31.3 seconds remaining and Warren hit two free throws to ice it with 13.8 ticks left.

While Garland made 14 of 20 shots and finished with his fourth 40-point game of his career, Donovan Mitchell was held to 15 points. Evan Mobley was held to 12 as Cleveland shot 47.6 percent and lost consecutive games for the first time since its five-game skid last month.

The Nets held a 34-22 lead through the opening quarter and ended the first half with a 21-6 run for a 65-49 lead by halftime.

Cleveland hung around in the third and cut the lead to 91-79 entering the fourth on Kevin Love’s putback with one second left. Irving hit a trey and had a three-point play in the opening 1:45 of the fourth as Brooklyn opened a 102-83 lead before Cleveland’s comeback try began.

–Field Level Media