Kyrie Irving scored 36 points in his return to Brooklyn as the Dallas Mavericks took control in the second quarter, survived some shaky moments in the fourth and earned a 119-107 win over the Nets on Tuesday in New York.
On the one-year anniversary of Irving being traded from the Nets for Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith after a controversial tenure in Brooklyn, Irving did not get the same video highlights as Kevin Durant received last week. Instead, Irving got a “welcome back” message on the scoreboard in pregame introductions along with former Nets Seth Curry and Markieff Morris.
Irving scored 21 points by halftime to help the Mavericks open up a 65-47 lead, and he then hit two clutch threes in the final five minutes of the game to thwart Brooklyn’s comeback try. He made 15 of 24 shots in his second game back from a bruised thumb and hit six threes.
Luka Doncic sported a face mask after being questionable with a nasal contusion and added 35 points. Doncic also tied a season high with 18 rebounds and handed out nine assists.
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 14 points and Josh Green contributed 12 as the Mavericks led for the final 37:48, shot 50.5 percent from the floor and sank 19 threes.
Mikal Bridges scored 28 points as the Nets dropped to 7-20 in their past 27 games and fell 10 games under .500. Cam Thomas tallied 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, Royce O’Neale added 18 points and Jalen Wilson scored 10 for the short-handed Nets, who shot 45.1 percent.
The Nets were without starters Finney-Smith (ankle), Cameron Johnson (adductor) and key reserve Lonnie Walker IV (left hamstring).
Irving surpassed 20 points with a layup through traffic to put the Mavericks up 54-38 with 5:47 remaining in the second quarter. The Mavericks took an 18-point lead by halftime on Doncic’s 3 over Bridges right before the horn.
After the Nets moved within 82-73 on two free throws by Thomas, Doncic sank two long threes in the final minutes of the third quarter as the Mavericks ended the period with a 13-2 run for a 95-77 lead entering the fourth.
Dinwiddie’s three-point play made it 107-101 with 5:22 left, but Irving buried triples on consecutive trips for a 113-101 Dallas lead nearly a minute later.