NEW YORK – Kyrie Irving scored 35 points, Kevin Durant had 20 points, a career record of 16 assists and 10 rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets finished seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 134-126 win over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.
The Nets will host No. 8 Cleveland in the playoffs on Tuesday, with the winner going to the playoffs as the 7th seed. The losers will have a second chance by hosting the winner of the match between the 9th and 10th seed on Friday.
Brooklyn and Cleveland finished 44-38, but the Nets won the series of the season and took a tiebreak.
Durant shot just 5 for 17 from the field, but finished with his fourth triple-double, his biggest total of any season. Andre Drummond added 20 points, shooting 9 for 9 and 13 rebounds. Bruce Brown scored 21 points in the Nets ’fourth straight win to end the regular season.
The Nets started the final week in danger of finishing in ninth or 10th place, which would mean they needed two wins – at least one away – in the post-season entry game.
But they took advantage of a mild schedule in their final days, beating Houston and New York before beating Cleveland on Friday.
Oshae Brissett has scored 28 points for the Pacers, who have lost their last 10 games and finished 25-57. Indiana did not win after March 20. Buddy Hield added 21.
The Nets made 20 of their first 26 shots – Durant was 0 for 5, the rest of the team 20 for 21 – and opened the 47-29 lead just over a minute in the second quarter.
The Nets led 76-60 at halftime, but the Pacers started the third quarter with a series of 17-2 and it was a one-point game. Terry Taylor’s basket equalized at 91, but Irving scored a three-pointer before Durant scored, then threw a lob to Nico Claxton for a dunk that quickly returned to 98-91.
The Pacers struggled to return, even after the Nets regained a double-digit lead, but Irving responded a couple of times with baskets as he approached.
Pacers: Duane Washington Jr. he scored 18 points. Tyrese Haliburton had 17 points and 10 assists.
Nets: Seth Curry missed the game due to left ankle pain. … Coach Steve Nash said that G Goran Dragic, who missed the fifth consecutive game while in health and safety protocols, is feeling better and could play on Tuesday if he gets on time.
Ben Simmons, who has yet to play for the Nets since being transferred from Philadelphia in a trade term, practiced on the field before the game. Nash provided positive news about the No. 1 pick from 2016, which battled back problems involving a herniated disc.
“He’s moving a little bit,” Nash said. “Still 1 on 0 stuff, so there are still a lot of milestones to achieve, but it’s positive. At least it’s moving a little bit.”
OFFER OF THE DAY
Kessler Edwards started the day the Nets signed a standard NBA contract with him, earning him the right to play in the postseason. The pick of the second round from Pepperdine had a two-way deal, which would not allow him to play next week.