The Rundown: Nets stay hot, Clippers rally back to beat Pistons

Published December 27, 2022, 3:00 PMMiguel Flores

The Nets extended their winning streak to nine after dowing the Cavaliers. The Clippers, on the other hand, delivered a strong finishing kick to win in OT.


Nets 125, Cavaliers 117

Clippers 142, Pistons 131

Heat 113, Timberwolves 110

Rockets 133, Bulls 118

Pelicans 113, Pacers 93

Spurs 126, Jazz 122

Trail Blazers 124, Hornets 113

What went down

The Brooklyn Nets stayed the hottest team in the league by upending one of Eastern Conference's early darlings. The Nets stormed into Cleveland and took down the Cavaliers for their ninth straight win.

Brooklyn came out of the gates firing, dropping 34 points in the first quarter. They continued to pour it on, eventually gaining a 19-point lead in the third quarter.  When Darius Garland, who dropped 46 points today, almost brought the Cavs back into the game late in the fourth quarter, the Nets had all the answers. 

Kyrie Irving has made all the difference. Since returning from his suspension due to his antisemitic beliefs, Irving has reestablished the unstoppable offensive bond he had with Durant. Today, the duo each had 32 points, going a combined 21-for-37 from the field.

While their superstars carry much of the offensive load, the other Nets have slipped in seamlessly into their roles. Royce O'Neale and Yuta Watanabe have been staunch defenders and 3-point shooters. Ben Simmons has been great when healthy, providing playmaking and defense. TJ Warren has also been figuring out his niche within the team. Today, he dropped 23 points, showing glimpses of his 2020 Bubble form.

Brooklyn has shot up from out of the playoff picture to third in the East with a 22-12 record. The Cavs are right behind with a 22-13 slate.

In Detroit, the Los Angeles Clippers dug deep to pull off their most exciting win of the season. Down by 13 with three minutes to go, the Clippers went on a 15-2 run to force OT then outscored the Pistons 15-3 in the extra period to escape with the win.

Paul George dropped 32 points with 11 assists to lead the starters. The bench trio of Luke Kennard, Norman Powell and John Wall combined for 50 points, and were big contributors to their late run.

The Clippers have been more than getting by in a murky Western Conference with George and Kawhi Leonard needing to manage their health. They sit at fourth in the standings with a 20-15 record, just a game and a half behind the 20-12 Memphis Grizzlies.

Big-time baller

The rebuild has been rough on the Houston Rockets’ record, but it has allowed their young core to flourish. Kevin Porter Jr., one of the top reclamation projects in the league, poured in 37 points, which included six triples, with seven rebounds and nine assists to lead the Rockets to their 10th win of the season against the Chicago Bulls.

Porter went from almost being cut to a legitimate foundational piece on the Rockets. While the wins don’t show it, Porter has also been developing some valuable chemistry with backcourt tandem Jalen Green, who had 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting today.

What he said

Damian Lillard passed Clyde Drexler to become the Portland Trail Blazers’ all-time leading scorer last week. Lillard, true to form, played the individual accomplishment off and preferred to speak on the game, which was a road loss for Portland at Oklahoma City.

Today, as Portland returned home to face the Charlotte Hornets, the Trail Blazers prepared a video for Lillard, which had some of the league’s top stars and his former teammates congratulate him on becoming the Top Blazer.

Did you see that?

Kevin Durant did more than lead the Nets to their ninth straight win today. He also passed Tim Duncan for 15th on the all-time scoring list.

At the rate Durant’s going, if he plays around 80 percent of Brooklyn’s remaining games, he’s going to end up in the top 10 of the list by this season’s end.