NEW YORK (AP) — Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez each scored 20 points, and the Brooklyn Nets snapped the Cleveland Cavaliers’ four-game winning streak with a 106-98 victory on Friday night.
Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points for the Nets, who held LeBron James to two baskets in the second half and won for the sixth time in eight games as they chase a playoff berth. They came in tied for ninth in the East, a half-game behind Boston for the final spot.
James finished with 24 points and nine assists for Cleveland, while Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 26 points, and Kevin Love had 18 points and seven rebounds.
The Cavaliers had won the first three meetings this season, outscoring the Nets by about 17 points per game. But Brooklyn turned up its defense in the second half to cool off what had been the NBA’s hottest team for more than two months.
And they did it at home, where they have struggled all season. Brooklyn improved to just 13-20 at Barclays Center while playing without starting forward Thaddeus Young because of a strained left knee that could keep him sidelined through the weekend.
The Cavaliers lost for just the second time in 10 games and seventh in 35 games since Jan. 15. They appeared frustrated with each other at times and with the referees all the time, complaining about almost every call down the stretch as the Nets broke away at the free-throw line.
It was 79-all after three before the Nets finally opened a bit of a cushion at 98-91 after four straight free throws by Lopez. Irving made two for Cleveland, but Johnson nailed a 3-pointer and Jarrett Jack hit two more from the line to make it 103-93 with 2:25 left, the first double-digit lead for either team.
Brooklyn led 57-56 after a well-played first half in which each team shot better than 50 percent. James had 16 points in 16-plus on 6-of-8 shooting at the break.
Cavaliers: Cleveland finished just 8 of 30 (27 percent) from 3-point range. The Cavs had made 10 or more 3-pointers in nine straight road games. … The Cavs had won four straight meetings dating to last season.
Nets: Veteran forward Earl Clark, signed to a 10-day contract earlier Friday, made his Nets debut in the third quarter and scored seven points in 12 minutes. Asked before the game what Clark needed to do to get minutes, coach Lionel Hollins responded: "I need to put him in the game. `Earl, go in the game.’ That’s how he gets minutes. It’s not rocket science out there." … Official scorer Herb Turetzky worked his 1,300th consecutive game, a streak that began in the second round of the 1984 playoffs. It includes 1,240 games in the regular season and 60 in the postseason.