In another time, the Nets might have been perfect villains, forcing themselves into relevance — even ubiquity — by winning, by inspiring copycats. New eras beget new definitions. The Nets aren’t villains. They’re antiheroes.
CLEVELAND (AP) Kyrie Irving needed some time. The new-look Nets will require some as well. Irving returned from his personal ''pause'' and scored 37 points in his first game with Kevin Durant and James Harden but Brooklyn's ''Big 3'' couldn't keep up with Cleveland's Collin Sexton, who scored 42 and led the Cavaliers to a 147-135 double-overtime win on Wednesday night.
Brooklyn Nets (9-7, fifth in the Eastern Conference) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-7, sixth in the Eastern Conference) Cleveland; Friday, 7:30 p.m. EST BOTTOM LINE: Cleveland hosts the Brooklyn Nets after Collin Sexton scored 42 points in the Cavaliers' 147-135 overtime victory against the Nets. The Cavaliers have gone 6-5 against Eastern Conference teams. Cleveland is third in the Eastern Conference with 11.4 offensive rebounds per game led by Andre Drummond averaging 4.2. The Nets are 6-4 against Eastern Conference opponents. Brooklyn is the Eastern Conference leader with 37.8 defensive rebounds per game led by James Harden averaging 8.3. The teams meet for the second game in a row. TOP PERFORMERS: Drummond leads the Cavaliers with 15.1 rebounds and averages 18.8 points. Drummond is averaging 13.5 rebounds and 16.5 points per game over the last 10 games for Cleveland. Kevin Durant leads the Nets averaging 31.3 points while adding 7.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game. Harden is averaging 12.7 assists and 29 points over the last 10 games for Brooklyn. LAST 10 GAMES: Cavaliers: 4-6, averaging 98.7 points, 43.1 rebounds, 22.3 assists, nine steals and 4.6 blocks per game while shooting 43.6% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 106.4 points on 46.5% shooting. Nets: 6-4, averaging 122 points, 46.4 rebounds, 27.5 assists, 6.4 steals and 5.9 blocks per game while shooting 51.1% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 118.2 points on 46.6% shooting. INJURIES: Cavaliers: Dylan Windler: out (wrist), Darius Garland: out (right shoulder), Matthew Dellavedova: out (concussion), Kevin Porter Jr.: out (personal), Kevin Love: out (calf). Nets: Nicolas Claxton: out (right knee), Spencer Dinwiddie: out for season (acl). ___ The Associated Press created this story using technology provided by Data Skrive and data from Sportradar. The Associated Press