Nets beat Pacers to grab 7th place, host of Tuesday’s playoff

NEW YORK (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 35 points, Kevin Durant had 20 points, a career-high 16 assists and 10 rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets clinched seventh place in the Eastern Conference with a 134- 126 over the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

The Nets will host No. 8 Cleveland in the qualifying tournament on Tuesday, with the winner advancing to the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. The loser will get a second chance by hosting the winner of the game between the seeds. n°9 and 10 Friday.

Brooklyn and Cleveland both finished 44-38, but the Nets won the season series to take the tiebreaker.

Durant shot just 5 of 17 from the field but finished with his fourth triple-double, his most all-season tally. Andre Drummond added 20 points, shooting 9 for 9 and 13 rebounds. Bruce Brown scored 21 points in the Nets’ fourth straight win to wrap up the regular season.

The Nets started the past week in danger of finishing ninth or 10th, which would have meant needing two wins — at least one on the road — in the play-in to enter the playoffs.

But they enjoyed a loose schedule in their final days, with victories over Houston and New York before beating Cleveland on Friday.

Oshae Brissett scored 28 points for the Pacers, who have lost their last 10 games to finish 25-57. Indiana did not win after March 20. Buddy Hield added 21.

The Nets hit 20 of their first 26 shots — Durant was 0 for 5, the rest of the team 20 for 21 — and opened a 47-29 lead just over a minute into the second quarter.

The Nets led 76-60 at halftime, but the Pacers started the third quarter with a 17-2 run to make it a one-point game. Terry Taylor’s field goal tied it at 91, but Irving made a 3-pointer before Durant scored, then lobbed Nic Claxton for a dunk that quickly put it back at 98-91.

The Pacers kept trying to come back, even after the Nets regained a double-digit lead, but Irving responded with baskets a few times when he got close.

TIPS

Pacers: Duane Washington Jr. scored 18 points. Tyrese Haliburton had 17 points and 10 assists.

Nets: Seth Curry missed the game with left ankle pain. … Coach Steve Nash said G Goran Dragic, who missed his fifth straight game while adhering to health and safety protocols, is feeling better and could play Tuesday if cleared in time.

SIMMONS STATUS

Ben Simmons, who still hasn’t played for the Nets since acquiring Philadelphia at the trade deadline, practiced on the court before the game. Nash provided a positive update on the 2016 No. 1 pick, who battled back issues including a herniated disc.

“He does a bit of movement,” Nash said. “Still 1v0 things, so he still has a lot of milestones to reach, but it’s positive. At least he’s moving a bit.

THE BUSINESS OF THE DAY

Kessler Edwards started the day the Nets signed him to a standard NBA contract, making him eligible to play in the playoffs. Pepperdine’s second-round pick had a two-way deal, which wouldn’t have allowed him to play next week.


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