LOS ANGELES, United States, Dec 17 – Brooklyn star Kyrie Irving drilled a buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift the Nets to fifth straight NBA victory on Friday as reigning champions Golden State and league-leading Boston both lost.
Irving’s step-back three-pointer gave the Nets a 119-116 victory over the Raptors in Toronto.
Irving led the Nets with 32 points. Kevin Durant added 28 as Brooklyn notched their ninth win in 10 games.
Brooklyn trailed by as many as 18 in the first half, but rallied to stay a game behind third-placed Cleveland in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs — fueled by 41 points from Donovan Mitchell — rallied for a 118-112 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Fred VanVleet scored a game-high 39 points for the Raptors, his pull-up three-pointer knotting the score at 105-105 with 3:06 to play.
Brooklyn responded with dunks from Ben Simmons and Durant as the teams traded the lead, the Nets going up 116-114 with 14.1 seconds left on a three-pointer by Yuta Watanabe who was fed by Irving.
Toronto’s Scottie Barnes made two free throws to tie it up again, but Irving came through at the buzzer.
“Once you get that ball in your hands at the end of the game, it’s what you dream about,” Irving said.
The Nets stayed a game ahead of the fifth-placed Philadelphia 76ers, who beat the short-handed Warriors 118-106 in Philadelphia.
Joel Embiid scored 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and James Harden added 27 points and nine assists for the Sixers, who were short-handed themselves with Tobias Harris a late scratch with back pain.
The Warriors were without superstar Stephen Curry, who will be sidelined indefinitely after injuring his left shoulder in a loss at Indiana on Wednesday.
Andrew Wiggins missed a sixth straight game and Draymond Green was out with a thigh contusion as the Warriors fell to 2-14 on the road.
Jordan Poole led the Warriors with 29 points and Donte DiVincenzo scored 17 — including 15 on five three-pointers in the first half.
But Golden State couldn’t maintain their early pace and couldn’t contain Embiid as he scored 12 points in the third quarter on the way to his sixth straight game of at least 30 points.
“They made a lot of shots, they were hot to start the game,” Embiid said of a Warriors team that led by two at halftime. “We knew at some point they were going to cool down. We just had to stay aggressive, get stops.”
In Boston, the young Orlando Magic sprung a surprise with a 117-109 victory over the Celtics, whose league-best record fell to 22-8.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 31 points and seven rebounds. Jaylen Brown added 26 points, but Boston couldn’t hold off a Magic team that won their fifth straight.
Boston center Robert Williams made his season debut after having surgery on his left knee in September. He scored nine points and pulled down five rebounds off the bench.
Moritz Wagner scored 25 points and Paolo Banchero added 20 for the Magic, who out-rebounded the Celtics 53-38 and never trailed in the second half.
– Lakers win, Davis hurt –
The Los Angeles Lakers pulled away late for a 126-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets, despite losing Anthony Davis to a right foot injury at halftime.
Davis was clearly hindered after tangling with Denver’s Nikola Jokic under the basket in the first quarter but played on, the Lakers trailing 65-64 after a hard-fought first half.
Denver led by 12 with 8:03 left in the third quarter, but a driving layup by LeBron James and a three-pointer from Dennis Schroder had the Lakers up by five going into the fourth, when they relentlessly pulled away.
James led the Lakers with 30 points and Thomas Bryant added 21 off the bench as he filled in for Davis in the second half.
Two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Jokic scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Denver.
The New York Knicks pushed their winning streak to six games with a 114-91 victory over the Bulls in Chicago.
RJ Barrett scored 27 points and Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes added 22 apiece, Brunson making a career-high six three-pointers and Grimes draining five as the Knicks finished with 17 from beyond the arc.