During the Thursday night NBA slate, Cleveland Cavaliers‘ Isaac Okoro hit a 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds remaining and finished with 11 points to beat the Brooklyn Nets 116-114.
“It was a lot of pressure put into the shot, of course,” Okoro said. “You always feel good with a game-winner. For me, it was my first one.”
Donovan Mitchell scored 31 points, Evan Mobley finished with 26 points and 16 rebounds, and Jarrett Allen had 12 points and 10 rebounds against his old team. With its eighth win in 10 games, Cleveland reduced its magic number to two to qualify for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“It was ugly at times,” Mitchell said. “There’s just so much going on (in the playoff race), and at the end of the day all we can do is control what we can control and winning these games instead of praying that other teams lose or win, we just gotta go out there and do what we do, and it’s great to have a win like this tonight.”
The Nets lost their fifth consecutive game as Mikal Bridges scored 32 points, Spencer Dinwiddie added 25 points and 12 assists and Joe Harris scored 15 points.
“It’s frustrating,” Bridges said. “Obviously, we’ve got to keep the energy and morale high, but it’s devastating losing like that.”
During the opening quarter, Mitchell and Bridges each scored in double figures. A total of 12 points were scored by Mitchell in the first, including nine in the first 2:17. At the end of the first quarter, the Nets led 33-31, thanks to Bridges’ 10 points.
With their defensive rating and points-against per game ranked first in the NBA, the Cavaliers had no answer for the Nets first half offense. Dinwiddie scored 19 points and provided seven assists as Brooklyn took a 61-60 lead into halftime.
A late 12-2 run, prompted by three crucial Nets turnovers, helped Cleveland close the game with a 112-104 lead with 2:13 left. Down by one, Mitchell failed to convert on a second free throw to tie, then missed a put-back attempt. However, three different Nets players were in a position to rebound the ball, but failed to do so.
“I thought we did a great job of getting some stops to put ourselves in that position,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “You miss the free throw, we had multiple opportunities at it, but guys didn’t quit on the play, and we talk about winning 50-50 balls and winning the scrap.”
After gaining possession of the ball, LeVert dished the ball to Okoro in the corner, and he knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer for Cleveland.
“The ball goes out to Caris, and I’m just running to the corner and going to my spot, and Caris trusted me,” Okoro said. “Once it left my hand, I knew it was going in.”
At the buzzer, Bridges missed a long heave from half-court. By the end of the third quarter, Bridges had his eighth 30-plus point game as a member of the Nets. During Brooklyn’s 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, Harris sank four 3-pointers in less than five minutes.
“I felt like we deserved to win that game because we did a lot of good things throughout the course of the night,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “This is an opportunity for us to learn who we are.”
The Cavaliers are back on Sunday when they take on the Houston Rockets. As for the Nets, they return to action on Saturday against the Miami Heat.
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