NBA: Nets beat Bulls, close in on No. 2 seed in East

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at May 16 2021 09:56 AM

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) dribbles the ball against Chicago Bulls forward Patrick Williams (44) during the second half at Barclays Center. Andy Marlin, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Kyrie Irving scored 22 points as the Brooklyn Nets got a significant contribution from their reserves and pulled away down the stretch for a 105-91 victory over the visiting Chicago Bulls on Saturday afternoon in New York.

The Nets (47-24) won their fourth straight and moved 1 1/2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee is hosting the Miami Heat on Saturday night and holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Brooklyn.

The game marked the first time Brooklyn's three stars of Irving, James Harden and Kevin Durant played in the same game since Feb. 13 at Golden State. 

It was only the eighth time they played together this season and the trio were on the floor together for about 16 minutes.

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Irving was the most effective of Brooklyn's trio by scoring 20 points in the first half when the Nets shook off an early 12-point deficit. Durant finished with 12 on 4 of 17 from the floor while collecting nine rebounds and six assists, and Harden had five points, seven assists and five rebounds in 25 minutes.

Jeff Green added 19 points as Brooklyn got 48 points from its reserves. Bruce Brown chipped in 16 points and 12 rebounds as the Nets shot 47.1 percent and outscored the Bulls 105-79 after allowing the game's first 12 points.

Chicago (30-41) was eliminated from postseason contention Friday night when the Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers so it held out Zach LaVine (knee soreness). 

Rookie Patrick Williams scored a career-high 24 points and former Net Thaddeus Young added 19 as the Bulls shot 34.7 percent and misfired on 30 of 41 3-point tries.

After Chicago's opening 12-0 run, the Nets outscored the Bulls 28-17 the rest of the quarter and were within 29-28. Chicago held its last lead when Javonte Green's free throw made it 41-40 with 7:58 remaining but Brooklyn outscored the Bulls 21-10 the rest of the half for a 61-51 lead at intermission.

Brooklyn allowed the Bulls to hang around throughout the third quarter and held a 79-71 lead into the fourth quarter. 

Chicago ripped off eight straight points to get within 85-81 on Young's finger roll with 8:47 remaining but Jeff Green hit two 3-pointers and Landry Shamet capped a 15-2 run with a 3-pointer at the 5:27 mark to make it 100-83.

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