Cavaliers fall to Durant's Nets 125-117  
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - After the Cleveland Cavaliers (22-12, 3rd place Eastern Conference) suffered only their third home loss of the season (16-3) on Friday against the Toronto Raptors they hoped to get back on track Monday when former Cav Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets (21-12, 4th place EC) came to town. Brooklyn entered the game on an eight-game winning streak and only a half-game behind the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. When the night ended the Cavaliers were in the fourth spot in the East a half game behind the Nets who were now winners of nine in a row with a 125-117 win over the Cavs.

The game was tied three times early. The Nets took their first lead at 9-7 with 7:54 left in the first quarter when Evan Mobley lost the ball out of bounds and Royce O’Neale hit a seven foot jumper to give Brooklyn a 9-7 advantage. The Cavs regained the lead with 7:04 left when Donovan Mitchell drained a three-pointer from 25 feet giving Cleveland an 10-9 lead. Brooklyn scored the next 10 points giving the Nets a 19-10 lead with 5:22 remaining in the first period after T.J. Warren drained a three. The next extended the lead to 12 when O’Neal drained his second three of the quarter with 3:23 left. Just nine minutes into the game the Cavs turned the ball over four times resulting in seven Brooklyn points. It was apparent that the Cavs were going to have to take care of the ball better if they had any shot at making up the early deficit and win the game. The Cavs were able to cut the lead to 10 with 1:29 left after Evan Mobley drew a foul on a layup converting the three-point play to pull the Cavs to within 29-19. The Cavs then cut the lead to nine at 31-22 when Kevin Love drained a three with :54 left in the first. The problem for the Cavs in the first period was obvious as the Nets were on fire from outside shooting 56% (5 for 9) from three-point range to take a 34-22 lead into the start of the second period. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 12 first quarter points. Darius Garland led Cleveland with nine points. The Cavs turned the ball over five times resulting in 10 Brooklyn points. The Nets also outworked the Cavs on the boards 9 to 6.

The Cavs trimmed the Nets lead to 38-29 with 9:38 left in the second quarter when Garland drained two free throws. Cleveland then cut the lead to 40-33 with 7:13 left when Garland scored on a fast break layup. The Cavs were accessed a transition technical foul with 6:52 left. Irving shot the free throw for the Nets clanking it off the rim much to the delight of the Cleveland crowd. The Cavs cut into the Nets advantage further with 4:45 remaining when Lamar Stevens hit a long three pulling the Cavs to within four points at 42-38. The Cavs run continued cutting the Nets lead to 44-43 with 3:53 left when Garland drained his second three of the first half. The Nets who took a timeout after the Cavs closed the deficit to one point apparently used the timeout to their advantage and went on a 21-4 run over the next 3:32 extending their lead 64-47 on a barrage of three-point baskets. The Cavs did score the final basket of the half to cut the deficit to 65-49 at halftime. Cleveland turned the ball over nine times in the first half resulting in 14 Nets points. The Nets did not take care of the ball much better turning it over eight times, but the Cavs were only able to turn those into eight points. The Nets were blistering hot from the field shooting (26 for 44) 59% while the Cavs only shot (18 for 42) 42%. Brooklyn was even hotter from three-point range shooting (9 for 14) 64% while the Cavs shot just (5 for 16) 31%. Garland led all scorers in the half with 18. Garland was the only Cleveland player in double figures. Durant led the way for the Nets with 16 points. Three other Nets including Warren (15), Irving (14) and O’Neale (10). Brooklyn also outhustled the Cavs on the board 19-17 in the first 24 minutes.

The Cavs pulled to within 10 points at 70-60 with 9:56 left after two consecutive 3 pointers by Mitchell and then a thunderous dunk by Allen that forced Nets coach Jacque Vaughn to take a timeout. The Nets once again responded outscoring the Cavs 8-3 over the next 3:08 to extend their lead to 78-63 with 6:48 left in the third. Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff had seen enough and called a timeout. The Cavs did the cut the lead to 12 points on another Garland three point shot from very long with 3:43 left. But the Cavs had no answer on defense to stop the Nets as every time the Cavs made a dent in the Brooklyn lead the Nets responded. However, the Cavs did cut the lead to 85-75 when Garland put in a layup and was fouled, he drained the foul shot with 2;36 left in the third quarter. Another Cavs turnover resulting in another Nets basket extended their lead to 89-75 with 1:25 left in the third. The turnover was the Cavs 12th of the game resulting in 18 Nets points. The third quarter ended with the Nets holding a 91-79 average. The Cavs did outscore the Nets 30-26 in the quarter. Garland was still leading all scorers with 28 points. Mitchell had 15 and Mobley had 10. The Nets had five players in double figures led by Durant with 25.

As the fourth quarter began it was more of the same as Nets once again went on a run, this time 11-4 extending their lead to 102-83 with 10:15 left when Irving drained a pull up three-point jumper. Cleveland once again looked like they had some life when they cut the lead to 109-97 with 7:04 left when Garland tallied his fourth three of the night and his 32nd point. The Cavs were never able to pull closer than 10 points in the fourth quarter there was 4:07 left on the clock and Garland was fouled. He went to the line and drained one of two to pull the Cavs to within nine at 116-107. The Cavs then clamped down on defense with Mitchell bothering Irving until nearly stealing the ball twice until Irving was so unnerved, he tossed the ball out of bounds under the basket and the Cavs took possession after a timeout. Garland cut the lead to 116-109 with a jumper in the paint with 3:41 left, the point guard out of Vanderbilt now had 42 points in the game. Vaughn was feeling the momentum slipping away from his Nets, so he called a timeout. After the Nets hit a jumper Allen was fouled and drained both foul shots to cut the Nets lead to seven with 3:12 remaining in the game. With 2:52 remaining Durant was called for a charge on Cedi Osman, his fifth foul and the Nets burned another timeout as the Cavs were getting possession back. The Nets challenged the offensive foul and failed miserably as the call was not overturned. After the controversial Irving drained a three to extend the Nets lead back to 10 at 121-111 Durant fouled out of the game with 1:54 left. Garland drained both free throws cutting the Nets lead to eight points. The Cavs cut the lead to 121-115 with 1:02 left when Osman stole the ball and put in a layup. After the basket by Osman the Nets Irving traveled and the Cavs got the ball back with :512.3 left on the clock. Cleveland pulled to with four points with :44 left on a Garland jump shot which was his 46th point of the night. Irving then drew a foul extending the Nets lead back to six at 123-117 with :41 left on the game clock. The Cavs were unsuccessful on their next possession on a missed floater by Garland giving the ball back to Brooklyn. After Brooklyn took a timeout with :20.4 left the Cavs had no choice but to foul. Warren then made both free throws to seal the deal giving the Nets the 125-117 win. The loss marked the first time this season that the Cavs had lost two in a row at home.

Garland led all scorers in the game with 46 points in the loss. Mitchell was below his season average with only 15 points. Mobley had 12, Osman had 11 and Allen had 10 points. Irving and Durant each had 32 for the Nets. Warren also had 23. Brooklyn had six players in double figures in the game. Statistically the Nets outplayed the Cavs in every phase of the game. The Nets shot (47 of 82) 57% from the field while the Cavs shot (39 of 82) 48%. From three-point range the Cavs were 13 of 36 (36%) while the Nets were 18 of 30 (60%). The Nets had 27 assists while the Cavs had 21. Finally on the boards the Nets pulled down 38 rebounds while Cleveland managed only 33.

The Cavs will be back in action on Thursday night trying to right the ship in Indianapolis against the Indiana Pacers (17-16) at Gainbridge Fieldhouse at 7 p.m.. 
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​POSTED 12/26/2022 21:51
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