Durant, Irving lead Nets over Pacers
Lakers end disappointing season with win over Nuggets
Published: Apr 11, 2022 06:29 PM
Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket against the Indiana Pacers on April 10, 2022 in Brooklyn, New York City. Photo: VCG

Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket against the Indiana Pacers on April 10, 2022 in Brooklyn, New York City. Photo: VCG

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant combined for 55 points as the Brooklyn Nets held off a rally from the Indiana Pacers on Sunday to seal seventh place in the Eastern Conference and clinch home advantage for next week's play-in.

The Nets' final regular-season game looked set to be a blowout for long periods as Brooklyn jumped out to an 18-point lead in the first half.

But a dogged Pacers unit drew level at 89-89 with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter before Brooklyn regrouped to pull clear and run out 134-126 winners.

The win means Brooklyn will face a home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday where a victory will see them enter directly into the playoffs as seventh seeds.

The Nets will head into that showdown buoyed by the recent form of Irving and Durant.

Irving finished with 35 points, seven rebounds and five assists on Sunday, going 15-of-20 from the field.

Durant, meanwhile, completed a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 16 assists while Brooklyn had six players finish in double figures.

"It's been an up and down last few weeks for us - winning some games, losing some games," Durant said afterwards. 

"I think we're finding out who we are as a group and that's always a good thing." 

Durant is now looking forward ­eagerly to the business end of the ­season, starting with Tuesday's assignment against Cleveland. 

"It's been a long year and this is the perfect time of the year to play our best basketball," Durant said.

Milwaukee meanwhile dropped to third in the Eastern Conference standings after their under-strength lineup was thumped 133-115 by the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Sunday.

The Bucks were without key players Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis for the game which was notable for a bizarre fleeting cameo by another mainstay Jrue Holiday.

Holiday came onto the court for the tipoff and promptly committed a foul after eight seconds before leaving the court without returning. 

Reports said the brief appearance allowed him to collect a $255,000 bonus included in his contract for featuring in 67 games this season.

Austin Reaves established career highs of 31 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists and excelled in overtime as the Los Angeles Lakers overcame a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to record a 146-141 victory over the host Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.

Malik Monk scored a career-best 41 points and made seven three-pointers for Los Angeles (33-49), which won its second straight game following an eight-game slide to end one of the most disappointing seasons in NBA history. Wayne Ellington had 18 points in a game that was contested primarily with second and third teamers.

Markus Howard scored a career-high 25 points and Bryn Forbes added 24 points for the Nuggets (48-34), who are the sixth-seeded team in the Western Conference and will meet the third-seeded Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.

DeMarcus Cousins and Bones Hyland each added 17 points for Denver, which missed its final 12 field-goal attempts, including all eight in overtime.

Reaves scored seven straight ­Lakers' points in overtime, including a three-pointer to give Los Angeles a 142-137 lead en route to the comeback win.

The Lakers played without LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard.