The shorthanded Brooklyn Nets, led by a career-high 33 points from Cam Thomas and a season-best effort from Patty Mills, edged the Indiana Pacers 136-133 at Indianapolis.
The star duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were just two of the Nets’ seven absentees, but after trailing by nine with 7:14 to play, Brooklyn’s backups came through.
Veteran guard Patty Mills added 24 points, Edmond Sumner scored 21 and Day’Ron Sharpe added 20 as the Nets earned their third straight win.
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Mills, who hit a dagger three-pointer with 2:34 left, produced his highest-scoring game of the season and his best since Jan. 30.
With their stars sidelined — Durant dealing with knee injuries and Irving with a tight adductor — the Nets withstood 21 Pacers three-pointers.
“We talked before the game that we came here to get a win. And that was a goal,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “A lot of guys stepped up. We needed everyone, every minute, an incredible effort.
“I really felt like we thought we were going to win all night, which is a good feeling.”
Tyrese Haliburton scored 35 points to lead seven Indiana players in double digits.
The Nets trailed 120-113 with 5:04 to go, but escaped when Andrew Nembhard couldn’t knock down his three-pointer in the final second.
GIDDEY’S BIG STAGE
Australian Josh Giddey achieved a milestone in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 102-110 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Giddey was one of the Thunder’s best in a losing cause, finishing with 17 points, 13 rebounds and six assists to record his fourth double-double in his last five games.
The 20-year-old also passed 1,000 points in the NBA – in just 77 games.
The Cavs, however, were too strong for Giddey’s Thunder at home, with all five starters recording double-digit runs.
CURRY, KLAY COMBINE FOR 66 IN WARRIORS WIN
The Golden State Warriors have sent a strong signal that they won’t give up their NBA crown without a fight, beating the Boston Celtics 123-107 in an NBA Finals rematch.
While the Warriors have struggled to build momentum in their title defense this season, the Celtics have posted the league’s best record.
But Golden State, with 34 points from Klay Thompson and 32 from Stephen Curry, was more than a game away for a Celtics team that came to San Francisco on a three-game winning streak.
“We just faced these guys in the NBA Finals – you want to send a message,” said Golden State forward Draymond Green, who acknowledged the Warriors were also eager to end a slide of two games.
Thompson started early, scoring 24 points in the first half.
Curry, who shot 12 of 21 from the field and had six of 13 three-pointers for the Warriors, said defense was key to the win.
“From the start we tried to defend flawlessly, just make it difficult for them,” Curry said.
Jaylen Brown scored 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Boston. Jayson Tatum added 18 points and Malcolm Brogdon added 16 off the bench.
“They’ve got so many great guys who can get the ball in the basket,” Curry said. “Tatum and Brown have played very high level basketball all year.
“You have to live with certain shots they take, but you try to keep them working all night.
“Offensively we moved the ball, Klay started early, but our defense is linked to our offense which is great.”
Curry played down the idea that the win had any special meaning.
“That got us over .500,” he said of a win that pushed the Warriors’ record to 14-13.
Boston star Tatum also said the early-season contest — about six months after the Warriors rallied to win last season’s championship series — had no special meaning.
“It was a game,” Tatum said. “It’s not going to dictate our season. It all depends on how we react.
Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said the setback could prove beneficial in the long run.
“They tested us,” Mazzulla said. “It’s good for us to pass.”
SOMEWHERE ELSE …
Los Angeles Clippers guard John Wall felt the love and, thanks to a solid performance from Paul George and some last-minute heroism from Nicolas Batum, took the win on his return to Washington.
George scored 36 points and Batum fired a go-ahead three-pointer with 23.8 seconds left as the Clippers beat the Wizards 114-107.
It was a homecoming for Wall, who went to Washington as the No. 1 draft pick in 2010 and played nine seasons with the Wizards.
He received a standing ovation when introduced before the game and was honored with a video tribute during an early timeout.
Zion 360 DUNK leads to SCUFFLE! | 00:53
He had already returned once with Houston, but the Covid pandemic meant no fans were at the game.
In Chicago, DeMar DeRozan scored 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Bulls to a 144-115 rout of the Dallas Mavericks, who were without NBA leader Luka Doncic.
Denver’s NBA Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic had a triple-double of 31 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists in the Nuggets’ 115-110 win over the Utah Jazz.
San Antonio celebrated the 26th anniversary of Gregg Popovich’s first game as Spurs coach with a 115-111 victory over the Heat in Miami.