The Cleveland Cavaliers, for a stretch on Friday night, looked a lot like their old selves.
Behind a strong third quarter — where Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 34-21 — the Cavs looked like they were in position to win. It would have been a needed win too, with this being the penultimate game of the regular season and the jostling for playoff seeding with the Nets and the Atlanta Hawks.
The Cavs, though, were on the other side of a beat down in the fourth quarter. Brooklyn outscored Cleveland 35-19 in the fourth quarter. The Nets had a particular advantage advantage at the free throw line, shooting 6-7 from the line with the Cavs taking zero free throw in the final quarter. In that quarter, the Cavs looked a lot like the team that has struggled of late — out of sync on defense and struggling to score on offense.
If there were two bright spots for the Cavaliers, it was the performances of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley in perhaps the biggest game of their NBA careers. Garland finished with team-high 31 to go with 3 assists. Mobley, in his return after missing five games with an ankle sprain, had 17 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Durant led all scorers with 36 points.
With the loss, the Cavs are now eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. If the Atlanta Hawks beat the Miami Heat on Friday night, Cleveland will drop to ninth.
Up next: The Cavs host the Milwaukee Bucks in their regular season finale on Sunday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Tipoff is at 3:30 p.m.