Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets cruise past Minnesota Timberwolves

Kevin Durant scored 31 points on 11-for-15 shooting to lead the shorthanded Brooklyn Nets to a comfortable 127-97 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday in Minneapolis.

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Tuesday night’s NBA results

Brooklyn Nets 127 – 97 Minnesota Timberwolves

The Nets snapped a five-game losing streak at Minnesota and beat the Timberwolves for the second time in the past 16 days.

The game was played without any fans in attendance at the Target Center after being rescheduled from Monday in the wake of the police shooting of Daunte Wright, which sparked protests around the city of Minneapolis.

In his third game back after missing the previous 23 with a hamstring strain, Durant played 27-plus minutes and led a Nets squad which was without James Harden (right hamstring strain), Kyrie Irving (personal reasons), LaMarcus Aldridge (illness) and Tyler Johnson (right knee soreness).

Brooklyn shot 46-for-91 (50.5 percent) from the field including 15-for-36 from 3-point range and recorded 31 assists, marking its 19th game this season with 30 or more. The Nets cruised from the second quarter on against Minnesota, who were without center Karl-Anthony Towns.

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Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said pregame that Towns opted out of playing on Tuesday to spend time with his family as he mourns the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death as a result of COVID-19.

Rookie Anthony Edwards led Minnesota with 27 points and eight rebounds while D’Angelo Russell finished with 15 points off the bench.

Joe Harris scored 23 points and went 5-for-8 from 3-point range while Landry Shamet totaled 19 points, five rebounds and five assists off the bench.

Miami Heat 86 – 106 Phoenix Suns

Deandre Ayton finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds to propel the host Phoenix Suns to a 106-86 victory over the Miami Heat.

The Suns won their third in a row and swept the season series from the Heat for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Phoenix has won 10 of its past 11 and is 31-7 since January 28.

Cameron Johnson finished with 15 points and five rebounds and Cameron Payne had 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Torrey Craig had 14 points and six rebounds while Dario Saric had 13 points and five rebounds.

Phoenix prevailed despite a poor shooting night from Devin Booker, who finished with 12 points but shot 4-for-16 from the field. Chris Paul shot just 2-of-7 from the field but totalled nine assists. Paul’s three steals gave him 2,311 for his career, surpassing Maurice Cheeks for fifth all-time on the NBA’s career steals list.

Jimmy Butler led Miami with 18 points and eight assists, but the Heat struggled from long distance against Phoenix’s defense. Miami shot 9-for-44 from 3-point range (20.5 percent).

Duncan Robinson was the lone bright spot in that department, finishing with 15 points and making 4-of-10 from beyond the arc.

Boston Celtics 116 – 115 Portland Trail Blazers

Jayson Tatum recorded 32 points, nine rebounds and five assists to lead the Boston Celtics to a 116-115 victory over the host Portland Trail Blazers.

Jaylen Brown scored 24 points and Kemba Walker contributed 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as Boston won for the fourth straight game and sixth time in the past seven. Robert Williams III added 16 points and seven rebounds and Marcus Smart had 13 points and seven assists.

Damian Lillard posted 28 points and 10 assists, and Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting for the Trail Blazers. Norman Powell added 20 points and CJ McCollum had 16 points as Portland lost for the fifth time in the past seven games.

Tatum made two free throws to give the Celtics a 113-112 advantage with 40.4 seconds to play. Lillard missed a shot for Portland with 33.2 seconds left before Tatum nailed a clutch 3-pointer with 7.8 seconds remaining to give Boston a four-point lead.

Powell buried a 31-foot, 3-pointer with five seconds left to move Portland within one. Smart was fouled and missed the first free throw with 3.5 seconds left and missed the second on purpose.

Lillard got the rebound but since Portland was out of timeouts, there was nothing he could do but throw an 80-footer that was well wide of the mark.

Los Angeles Clippers 126 – 115 Indiana Pacers

Paul George scored 36 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished eight assists to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 126-115 win over one of his former teams, the Indiana Pacers, in Indianapolis.

Despite the absence of leading scorer Kawhi Leonard due to a right foot injury, Los Angeles held the lead for much of the night.

George, who played for the Pacers from 2011 through 2017, recorded 32-plus points for the fourth consecutive game, while the Clippers reeled off their sixth straight win. George also helped ignite a critical 8-0 run to open the fourth quarter.

Marcus Morris Sr. followed up his season-best 33 points in Sunday’s win over the Pistons with 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting from the floor, including a perfect 3 of 3 from 3-point range. As a team, Los Angeles shot 13 of 28 beyond the arc, led by George’s 4 of 7.

Nicolas Batum added 14 points and registered a game-best 22 plus-minus rating. Ivica Zubac scored 14 points on 7 of 8 shooting from the field, Mann finished with 12 points off the bench, and Luke Kennard shot 2 of 3 from 3-point range en route to 10 points.

Malcolm Brogdon led the Pacers with 29 points. Caris LeVert scored 26 points coming off his high since joining Indiana of 34 points, and Domantas Sabonis notched his eighth consecutive double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Los Angeles Lakers 101 – 93 Charlotte Hornets

Kyle Kuzma scored 24 points and the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up a road trip by defeating the host Charlotte Hornets 101-93.

The Lakers weren’t exactly clicking on offense, but they bounced back from a loss to the New York Knicks a night earlier and finished with a 4-3 record on the road stretch.

Alex Caruso made key contributions in the last minute, finishing with 13 points and six assists off the Los Angeles bench.

Dennis Schroder posted 19 points for Los Angeles, which shot 41.5 percent from the field. The Lakers hit 17 of 18 free throws.

Devonte’ Graham poured in 19 points for Charlotte. Caleb Martin racked up 17 points in a rare starting role and Jalen McDaniels, also a recent addition to the starting line-up, had 16 points for the Hornets, who’ve lost both games since returning from a four-win, six-game road stretch.

Oklahoma City Thunder 96 – 106 Utah Jazz

Bojan Bogdanovic scored 23 points, Donovan Mitchell added 22 and the shorthanded Utah Jazz bounced back from a rough first quarter to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 106-96 in Salt Lake City.

The loss, OKC’s seventh in a row, spoiled a career-high 42 points from the Thunder’s Lu Dort.

Utah played without three regulars – Joe Ingles (knee soreness), Royce O’Neale (rest) and Jordan Clarkson (ankle sprain) – but still had six players reach double-figure scoring and three register double-doubles to bounce back from Monday’s home loss to Washington.

Rudy Gobert came within three blocks of a triple-double, scoring 13 points with 14 rebounds and seven swats, and Mike Conley returned to the line-up after skipping Monday’s game for load management to compile 15 points and 14 assists. Georges Niang took advantage of his first start this season with 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Jazz won for the 12th time in 15 games.

Atlanta Hawks 108 – 103 Toronto Raptors

Bogdan Bogdanovic scored 23 points and the visiting Atlanta Hawks held on to defeat the Toronto Raptors 108-103 Tuesday night at Tampa.

Clint Capela added 19 points and 21 rebounds for the Hawks as they completed a three-game season sweep over the Raptors.

Toronto made it close at the end, cutting a 14-point deficit to two in the final minute.

Brandon Goodwin scored 18 and Kevin Huerter added 17 for the Hawks, who have won seven of their past eight games.

Pascal Siakam scored 30 points with seven assists and six rebounds for the Raptors. Rookie Malachi Flynn added a season-best 22 points while OG Anunoby had 15 and Khem Birch had 13 points.

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