NEW YORK (AP)Kevin Durant had 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, leading the Brooklyn Nets back from 21 points down to a 110-98 victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night that strengthened their chances of the best spot possible next week in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.
After watching the Nets come back from 28 down when he was hurt in their last visit to Madison Square Garden, Durant scored 23 points in the second half to fuel this comeback that pulled Brooklyn within a game of Cleveland for seventh place in the East.
The Nets host the Cavaliers on Friday night. If they win that and then beat Indiana on Sunday in their regular-season finale, they would finish seventh and need to win one game in two chances at home in the play-in to qualify for the postseason.
Kyrie Irving added 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Nets, who swept the four-game season series and beat the Knicks for the seventh straight time, their longest winning streak in the local rivalry since taking a franchise-record 11 in a row from 1984-86.
It appeared it would go the Knicks’ way most of the night, and they were still ahead by 18 with under four minutes left in the third quarter. But Brooklyn cut it to 10 by the end of the period, then opened the fourth with a 15-2 spurt to storm into the lead.
The Knicks recovered to go back ahead by three, but Durant scored eight straight Brooklyn points, including the tiebreaking jumper that made it 98-96 with 4:15 to play. The Nets followed with 3-pointers by Irving, Seth Curry and Patty Mills to break it open. Curry and Mills each scored 15 points.
Alec Burks scored 24 points, and RJ Barrett had 23 for the Knicks, who were in control after a 19-0 spanning the first and second quarters.
CELTICS 117, BULLS 94
CHICAGO (AP) – Jaylen Brown scored 25 points, Al Horford added 17 on 7-of-7 shooting and Boston routed Chicago for its 50th victory.
The Celtics have won three in a row and are 27-6 since Jan. 22. They can wrap up the second spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs Thursday night with a victory at Milwaukee.
Jayson Tatum scored 16 points for Boston. He was 5 of 18 from the field, making only one of eight from 3-point range.
DeMar DeRozan scored 16 points for Chicago. The Bulls have lost two straight. They claimed a playoff berth Tuesday.
MAVERICKS 131, PISTONS 113
DETROIT (AP) – Luka Doncic had 26 points, 14 assists and eight assists and Dallas beat Detroit to reach 50 victories for the first time in seven years.
The Mavericks are 20 games above .500 for the first time since 2011, when they won the NBA title.
Jalen Brunson added 24 points for Dallas, The Maver have won five of six.
Cade Cunningham had 25 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for Detroit.
CLIPPERS 113, SUNS 109
LOS ANGLES (AP) – Norman Powell scored 24 points after being out two months, Paul George added 19 points in three quarters to go over 15,000 in his career and Los Angeles held off NBA-leading Phoenix.
With nothing at stake, Phoenix rested All-Star guards Devin Booker and Chris Paul and fellow starters Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder on the second night of a back-to-back. The Suns had already set a franchise record for wins in a season with 63 by eliminating the Lakers from playoff contention Tuesday.
The Clippers beat up the Suns for three quarters, leading by 39 points in the third. But Phoenix’s reserves put together a 48-point fourth quarter and then ran out of time.
Ish Wainwright scored a career-high 20 points to lead Phoenix. Aaron Holiday added 16 points and Bismack Biyombo had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
JAZZ 137, THUNDER 101
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Bojan Bogdanovic scored 27 points, Rudy Gobert added 20 points and 10 rebounds and Utah beat Oklahoma City.
Jordan Clarkson had 18 points and a season-high 10 assists, and Hassan Whiteside added 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks to help the Jazz win their fifth straight home game.
Jaylen Hoard scored 23 points for Oklahoma City. Isaiah Roby and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl each added 18 points.
HAWKS 118, WIZARDS 193
ATLANTA (AP) – Trae Young scored 16 of his 30 points in the third period to help Atlanta stretch its lead against Washington.
Kristaps Porzingis led Washington with 26 points and 18 rebounds.
The Hawks are ninth in the Eastern Conference, thanks to Brooklyn’s tiebreaker edge for eighth, and bound for the play-in tournament with two games remaining in the regular season.
Danilo Gallinari had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Atlanta. Young added 11 assists.