Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving scored 32 points apiece as Brooklyn Nets pushed its NBA winning streak to nine games on Monday with a 125-117 victory over Cleveland Cavaliers.
Brooklyn edged ahead of the Cavs for the 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.”