Hawks hold off Nets despite Durant's 55, Warriors into playoffs
Trae Young scored 11 of his 36 points in the final two minutes on April 2 as the Atlanta Hawks withstood a career-high 55 points from Brooklyn star Kevin Durant in a 122-115 NBA victory over the Nets.
The Hawks grabbed their fifth straight win to move into eighth place in the Eastern Conference, a game ahead of the Nets and the Charlotte Hornets, who were routed 144-114 by the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the day.
All three are jockeying for position in the play-in tournament, in which the teams place seventh to 10th in each conference will battle for the final two berths in the playoffs proper.
The Nets’ second straight defeat ended the star-studded Brooklyn team’s hopes of escaping the play-in and earning one of the top six seeds that will advance directly to the playoffs.
Kyrie Irving scored 31 points, but with Goran Dragic sidelined by COVID concerns, Bruce Brown out with flu and Seth Curry a late scratch with a left ankle injury, no other Nets player managed to score in double figures.
“We didn’t really play a good ball game,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “I can’t sugarcoat it. “We didn’t play a great game and not enough guys played well.”
Durant did all he could, but even after his 19 third-quarter points the Nets went into the final period trailing by seven.
His eight three-pointers, on 10 attempts, were also a career high and he surpassed his previous career high of 54 points, set when he was with Oklahoma City in 2014.
Elsewhere in the East, the Miami Heat tightened their hold on first place with a 127-109 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
Jimmy Butler scored 22 points and Kyle Lowry added 19 for the Heat, who have followed a four-game skid with a three-game winning streak.
In Philadelphia, Joel Embiid scored 29 points as the 76ers halted their three-game losing streak with an emphatic 144-114 rout of the Charlotte Hornets.
In the West, the Golden State Warriors clinched their first NBA playoff berth since 2019 with a dramatic 111-107 come-from-behind victory over the Utah Jazz.
Trailing by as many as 21 points in the first quarter and by 16 early in the fourth quarter, the Warriors outscored the Jazz 24-4 over the final eight minutes.