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Nets hold up Cavs, wrap up East’s No. 7 seed

Apr 12, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) shoots the ball over Cleveland Cavaliers forward Lauri Markkanen (24) during the first half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving put on a dazzling shooting display en route to 32 points, powering the Brooklyn Nets to a hard-fought 115-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday in an Eastern Conference play-in game at New York.

The victory makes Brooklyn the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and the Nets will open their first-round series against the Celtics on Sunday in Boston. On Friday, the Cavaliers will host the winner of the Wednesday game between the Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks to determine which team will be the No. 8 seed and earn a first-round matchup with the Miami Heat.

Irving, a former Cavaliers guard, made his first 12 shots and also finished with a game-high 12 assists. He didn’t miss his first shot until 10 minutes remained in the game. Irving shot 12 of 15 from the field, 3 of 6 from the 3-point arc and 7 of 7 from the foul line.

However, it was Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant who hit some crucial baskets in the fourth quarter after the Cavaliers pulled within six points.

Durant finished with 25 points, five rebounds, 11 assists, three blocks and two steals. He has dished out 27 assists in the past two games.

Brooklyn’s Bruce Brown added 18 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

Cleveland’s Darius Garland got hot in the fourth quarter and cut what had been a 22-point deficit to 88-82 with 8:43 left before Durant drained a 3-pointer.

A flagrant foul on Goran Dragic, who hit Garland in the groin, seemed to light a fire under the All-Star guard. Garland finished with 34 points and five assists.

Evan Mobley added 19 points and seven rebounds for the Cavaliers, while Kevin Love contributed 14 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Brooklyn held an 85-73 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Irving had 28 points and nine assists after three quarters, while Durant had 16 points and 11 assists. Garland had 18 points after three period.

Despite the late charge, which saw the Cavaliers get within five points three times in the final seconds, Brooklyn held on.

The Cavs are expected to get Jarrett Allen back for Friday’s game. The All-Star center has been out since March 6 due to a broken finger.

–Field Level Media