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Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving looks to drives past Chicago Bulls’ Zach LaVine (8) and Nikola Vucevic during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
CHICAGO — Kevin Durant knew the rest of the league had to be watching, curious to see just how good the Brooklyn Nets can be when they have all their superstars playing.
Well, here’s the answer.
Durant scored 27 points, James Harden added 25 points and a season-high 16 assists, and Brooklyn rolled to an easy win over Chicago, beating the Bulls 138-112 Wednesday night in a matchup between the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.
Durant had 17 points in the third to help Brooklyn break open a game that was tied at 71-all early in the quarter. The second-place Nets silenced a raucous crowd and came away with the win with all three superstars in the lineup for just the second time.
“We’re trying to make no statements to the league,” Durant said. “I mean, who cares what they think. We know what we bring to the table, and it’s all about us. But I’m sure people were watching the game tonight.”
Kyrie Irving scored nine in his third game. The seven-time All-Star has refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine and is barred from suiting up in New York due to the city’s mandate.
But Durant dominated over 30 minutes and finished with nine assists. Harden hit five 3-pointers. Patty Mills scored 21 and nailed of 6 of 8 from beyond the arc, helping Brooklyn come out on top after losing five of seven.
The Nets also avoided a three-game sweep by the Bulls. More than anything, they showed how dangerous they can be when they have all their best players available. That hasn’t happened often the past two years.
“We’re that good,” Harden said. “We have a chance to be that good. We just haven’t had enough of it.”
Zach LaVine scored 22. DeMar DeRozan added 19 points. But Chicago lost for the second time in three games after winning nine straight to match their best run since the end of the 2010-11 regular season. The Bulls also had their nine-game home win streak snapped.
“I think you own it,” coach Billy Donovan said. “I think our guys have worked hard up to this point to be where we are in the standings, and with that there’s a greater responsibility.”
The Nets outscored the Bulls 39-19 in the third to turn a two-point halftime lead into a 101-79 advantage.
Durant had 10 in about a two-minute span, including a 3 to make it 99-79 before Irving drove for a layup in the closing minute.
By then, the Nets were well on their way. They took control midway through the third with an 18-4 run to break open a game that was tied at 71, a 3-pointer by Mills making it 89-75.
“When that run happened, I think it was just a continuous sort of flow we had from the first half,” Irving said. “We just felt like once we break this open, hit a few more 3s, make it tough for them on the defensive end — we felt like we’d have control of the game.”
“I’m in Jersey. I go into the facility, into Brooklyn, to get my treatment, do workouts and then I go back home and I’m either with my son or my fiancee or both. If you only understood how many people support the Nets from my hometown and also from where I’m from, it’s a lot. Sometimes, it can be a little overwhelming. I can’t really go out and watch at a local bar or anything like that.” — Irving on where he watches Nets home games.
Nets: Though Chicago has a similar mandate as New York City, an exception allowed Irving to play. It applies to visiting professional and college athletes as well as non-resident performance artists. … C Nic Claxton (left hamstring tightness) missed the game.
Bulls: Donovan had no update on F Derrick Jones Jr., who left with a right knee injury 36 seconds into the game. He twisted it pulling up near the Chicago basket and had to be helped to the back. … G Alex Caruso missed his 10th straight game and fourth since entering the NBA’s COVID-19 protocol. He missed the first six of them because of a sprained left foot, and Donovan does not expect him to play against Golden State on Friday.
Nets: Host Oklahoma City on Thursday.
Bulls: Host Golden State on Friday.
KINGS 125, LAKERS 116
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — De’Aaron Fox scored 29 points, Chimezie Metu made a clutch 3-pointer with 46.7 seconds remaining and Sacramento beat Los Angeles to end a five-game skid,.
Harrison Barnes added 23 points and seven rebounds for the Kings.
LeBron James had 34 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Lakers. He was 13 of 29 from the field, 3 of 12 from 3-point range, and made 5 of 10 free throws.
KNICKS 108, MAVERICKS 85
NEW YORK — RJ Barrett scored 32 points, Mitchell Robinson had a season-high 19 and New York snapped Dallas’ winning streak at six games.
Robinson threw down three dunks in a powerful third quarter for the Knicks, who won for the fourth time in five games and returned to .500 at 21-21. He shot 9 for 10 from the field and had 10 rebounds.
Julius Randle finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Booed in the last game after holding his thumb down to the crowd last week.
Luka Doncic had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Mavericks. Dallas remained without coach Jason Kidd and former Knicks All-Star Kristaps Porzingis because of health and safety protocols.
HORNETS 109, 76ERS 98
PHILADELPHIA — Gordon Hayward made his first nine shots and scored 30 points and Charlotte beat Philadelphia to snap a 16-game losing streak in the series.
Hayward was 9 of 9 in first half — that included four 3-pointers — for 22 points. Terry Rozier added 22 points, and Miles Bridges had 21. The Hornets hadn’t beaten the 76ers since Nov. 2, 2016.
Joel Embiid scored 31 points for the fifth straight game for Philadelphia. The 76ers had won seven in a row.
CAVALIERS 111, JAZZ 91
SALT LAKE CITY — Lamar Stevens scored 15 of career-high 23 points in the third quarter in Cleveland’s victory over short-handed Utah.
Darius Garland had his first triple-double with 11 points, a career-high 15 assists and a career-high 10 rebounds. Lauri Markkanen added 20 points, Kevin Love had 16, and Eric Mobley finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Cleveland improved to 3-1 on its six-game trip.
Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points for the Jazz in their fourth straight loss. Centers Rudy Gobert, Hassan Whiteside and Udoka Azubuike and forward Rudy Gay are in COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
CELTICS 119, PACERS 100
INDIANAPOLIS — Jaylen Brown scored 34 points, Jayson Tatum added 33 and Boston beat Indiana.
Boston snapped a six-game road losing streak, beating Indiana for the second time in three days and the fourth straight time.
Myles Turner had 18 points for Indiana. The Pacers have lost two in a row and eight of nine.
WIZARDS 112, MAGIC 106
WASHINGTON — Kyle Kuzma had 19 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists to help Washington beat Orlando.
Washington has won three in a row, and the Wizards won for a second consecutive night without star guard Bradley Beal, who was out because of health and safety protocols.
Cole Anthony had 19 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the NBA-worst Magic. They have lost 10 in a row.
HEAT 115, HAWKS 91
ATLANTA — Tyler Herro had 21 points and Miami scored the first 16 points of the second half to break open a close game against Atlanta.
Herro added 11 assists. Caleb Martin had 18 points to help the Heat finish 4-2 on a trip.
John Collins led Atlanta with 16 points. Trae Young had 15.
ROCKETS 128, SPURS 124
SAN ANTONIO — Eric Gordon had 31 points and Houston beat San Antonio to snap a three-game skid.
Christian Wood scored 23 points, Kevin Porter Jr. added 18 and Jalen Green 14 for Houston.
Dejounte Murray had a career-high 32 points for the Spurs. San Antonio has lost four straight and seven of eight.
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