O’Neale scores on late tip, Nets top Trail Blazers 109-107

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Royce O’Neale scored on a tip-in with 0.7 seconds left to complete a triple-double and give the Brooklyn Nets a 109-107 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Kevin Durant led the Nets with 35 points, and O’Neale had 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Yuta Watanabe added 20 points off the bench and Ben Simmons scored a season-high 15 points before fouling out with 24 seconds left.

Damian Lillard had 25 points and 11 assists for Portland.

A 3-pointer by Watanabe gave the Nets an 85-82 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Watanabe scored 11 of his points in the third.

The Nets won a challenge down 95-93 with 7:31 left. Durant's basket after the challenge tied it at 95. After a pair of empty Portland possessions, Durant gave the Nets a 97-95 lead.

With 3:28 left, the Blazers began intentionally fouling Simmons. The career 59% free-throw shooter went 3 of 4 during the crucial series to preserve a 103-99 lead for Brooklyn.

Durant split a pair of free-throws to make it 106-103. Jusuf Nurkic was fouled by Durant on a layup with 6.5 seconds left and Nurkic converted the 3-point play to tie it at 107.

KYRIE NEAR RETURN

Star guard Kyrie Irving could return to the lineup for Brooklyn as soon as Sunday night when the Nets host the Memphis Grizzlies, according to coach Jacque Vaughn. Irving has not played since Nov. 1 while serving a team-imposed suspension for refusing to say he had no antisemetic beliefs.

Vaughn admitted there are no guarantees when incorporating Irving back into the team, which has gone 4-3 in his absence.

“There’s some uncertainty there for sure. And my approach is, the train is going to keep moving. That train is: playing hard, playing together, being a team and that’s going to continue. And that’s going to be up to me to get our group to incorporate everybody.”

UP NEXT

Nets: Host Memphis on Sunday night.

Trail Blazers: Host Utah on Saturday night.

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Erik García Gundersen, The Associated Press