NBA roundup: Nets beat Knicks in battle of New York, Celtics defense wrangles Bulls
New York, New York - The Brooklyn Nets came back from a 21-point deficit to storm home in the second half, defeating the New York Knicks 110-98 in the NBA on Wednesday.
The Nets' defense struggled early on, conceding 38 points in just the second quarter on the way to trailing 67-50 at half-time.
Knicks' R.J. Barrett was the best player in the first half, and went on to finish with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, but after his side peaked at a 71-50 lead one minute into the third period, it was all downhill from there.
Brooklyn would hold New York to just 31 points in the entire second half, snatching the lead in the fourth quarter and riding a hot shooting performance from Patty Mills in his return to form.
Mills hit five-of-seven from long range off the bench, including a deep contested step-back with the shot clock winding down late in the fourth quarter, while superstar Kevin Durant was spectacular throughout.
Durant scored 32 points on 11-of-22 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his 11 assists, while Barrett's shooting tailed off badly, finishing with figures of seven-of-27 from the field and two-of-11 from deep.
The win moves Brooklyn's record to 42-38, which is the same record as the Atlanta Hawks, but the Nets hold the tie-breaker and would finish in the eight seed if the season ended today.
Around the league
The Atlanta Hawks have been arguably one of the league's most disappointing teams this year, but last season's Eastern Conference Finalists have found some form heading into the play-in tournament, beating the Washington Wizards 118-103 behind another spectacular showing from All-NBA point guard Trae Young.
Young, who in his past 10 games is averaging 29.7 points and 11.1 assists on shooting splits of 48/40/91, was again the best player on the floor against the Wizards, racking up an efficient 30 points (eight-of-17 shooting, 11-of-12 from the free throw line) to go with 11 assists.
Washington's Kristaps Porzingis also deserves a mention for his 26 points (eight-of-16 shooting) and 18 rebounds as the Wizards nearly broke even (minus three) in his 32 minutes played.
The Boston Celtics, who are clearly the best defensive team in the NBA this season, made life miserable for the Chicago Bulls for a 117-94 road win.
Both teams will make the playoffs, but while the Celtics have thrived in the second half of the season and look like a contender, the Bulls have stumbled, with no Chicago player scoring more than DeMar DeRozan's 16 points on six-of-16 shooting on Wednesday.
On a down night for Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown picked up the scoring load, finishing with 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting to go with four assists and four steals.
The Dallas Mavericks clinched a top-four seed by beating the Detroit Pistons 131-113 while the Utah Jazz scored a big 137-101 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The top-seeded Suns, meanwhile, lost 113-109 to the LA Clippers.
Cover photo: IMAGO / Sports Press Photo