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The Cavaliers and Nets quickly discovered that they were two different squads than the ones who clashed at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in late-January.
Back then, both squads had just consummated a four-team deal that landed James Harden in Brooklyn and Jarrett Allen in Cleveland. And in back-to-back home contests, including a double-overtime thriller, the Wine & Gold took the pair.
But Sunday’s Nets – minus Harden – were hungry for the East’s 2nd-seed and getting geared up for an extended Playoff run and the Cavaliers were wrapping up an injury-riddled campaign on the road. The result was a one-sided 123-109 win for Steve Nash’s squad, which began pulling away in the third quarter and never looked back.
The injury bug has bitten J.B. Bickerstaff’s squad all season long, and Sunday’s contest was no different. The Cavs were again without starters Kevin Love and Darius Garland – and Collin Sexton was ejected after a questionable Flagrant-2 call, coming up into Kevin Durant’s chin with an elbow/forearm on what seemed like a relatively standard drive to the basket.
The Nets jumped ahead by double-figures less than three minutes into the contest. Cleveland went on a 15-6 run early in the second quarter and got as close as six midway through the period. But the Nets pulled away close to half, and the Cavs would only get within single-digits once more after intermission.
Dean Wade and Isaac Okoro both finished with 18 points apiece to lead Cleveland.
Wade went 7-for-14 from the floor, including 4-of-9 from long-range, adding eight boards, three assists and a steal. Okoro capped off his rookie season in style – finishing with double-digit points for the 12th time in his last 13 games – going 6-of-16 from the floor to go with three boards.
Damyean Dotson notched 15 of his 17 points before half, going 7-of-9 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from deep. Brodric Thomas added 14 points off Cleveland’s bench and Mfiondu Kabengele grabbed 10 boards in 18 minutes of relief.
Despite playing just 20 minutes, Sexton still managed 16 points, going 5-of-11 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the stripe, adding a team-high five boards.
Jarrett Allen led both squads with 11 rebounds to go with nine boards in the loss.
Kevin Durant led seven Nets in double-figures with a game-high 23 points – going 8-of-10 from the floor while also leading both squads with 13 assists. Kyrie Irving added 17 assists, six boards and three steals.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
After a Cavalier missed shot, Mfiondu Kabengele gets in position around his defender and rises to grab the rebound and dunk it home early in the second quarter.
The Nets were up just 11 at intermission after taking a double-digit lead early in the first quarter and the Cavs continued to hang around early in the third, cutting Brooklyn’s lead to just nine, 75-66.
But the Nets would close the period on a 24-10 run, taking a 23-point lead into the fourth quarter. Cleveland would eventually cut Brooklyn’s lead to just 10 in the closing moments, but it was too late to affect the outcome.
By the Numbers - 12.8, 10.0 … Jarrett Allen’s scoring and rebounding averages in 2020-21, averaging a double-double for the first time in his career, shooting .618 from the floor – which was good for 6th-best in the NBA.
The last player not named Thompson, Love or Drummond before Jarrett Allen to finish a season averaging a double-double in a Cavs uniform was Carlos Boozer in 2003-04.
"It’s all about being mentally strong, not knowing when you’re going to play or who your matchup is going to be. And I think that’s where we had a lot of growth this year, through a lot of trial and error. But overall, it just made us stronger, especially the younger guys being mentally prepared for everything."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
With Sunday’s loss in Brooklyn, the Wine & Gold close out the regular season at 22-50.
Despite the final mark, the Cavaliers go into the offseason with with solid young pieces like Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro and Jarrett Allen surrounded by youngsters like Dean Wade, Lamar Stevens, Brodric Thomas and Mfiondu Kabengele who made their mark this season. Savvy veterans Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., Taurean Prince and Damyean Dotson were all solid in spurts, but battled the injury bug all year long.