NEW YORK (AP) — Mikal Bridges had 30 points and seven rebounds, helping the Brooklyn Nets move closer to clinching a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference by holding off the Utah Jazz 111-110 on Sunday.
Spencer Dinwiddie had 17 points and 12 assists, his eighth double-double in 23 games for Brooklyn. The Nets won their third straight, but only after blowing almost all of a 20-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
“There’s only one winner and one loser in every single game; we won,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “So we’re going to take the win and we’re going to keep this thing moving.”
Cam Johnson scored 18 points as the Nets won for the fourth time in their past five games, opening a two-game lead over Miami for the No. 6 seed and dipping their magic number to two to clinch the last guaranteed playoff spot in the East.
“It was a nasty win,” said Nets center Nic Claxton, who had 14 points and seven rebounds. “We know where we are. We know every game is extremely important.”
Talen Horton-Tucker scored 32 points and Lauri Markkanen had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Jazz, who lost for the fifth time in six games and are 12th in the West, two spots behind the last play-in spot. Ochai Agbaji had 19 points.
“I love the competitiveness,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “I thought the guys dug in, stuck with it when they very easily could’ve folded at different times in the game.”
Brooklyn led by 11 at halftime, then outscored Utah 28-15 over a span of 10 1/2 minutes between the third and fourth quarters to build a 23-point lead. Bridges had 17 of his 19 second-half points in the third quarter.
“We were really moving the basketball,” Vaughn said. “Mikal had a good stretch where he was able to convert for us, but (Claxton) was getting to the rim for us, (Dinwiddie) was getting downhill. It was kind of spread throughout the team, which was a good thing.”
Horton-Tucker scored 15 in the fourth and Utah outscored Brooklyn 42-26 in the quarter. The Jazz used a 26-8 run to cut Brooklyn’s lead to one and had a chance to win after Seth Curry missed two free throws, but Kelly Olynyk’s jumper at the buzzer went long.
“I didn’t want (Horton-Tucker) or (Markkanen) taking that last shot,” Bridges said. “You can’t control that, just was hoping they wouldn’t get an opportunity. … I was hoping for a stop.”
Markkanen, who leads the Jazz by averaging 25.7 points per game, started just 2 for 8 from the field and was held scoreless until the 7:21 mark of the second quarter.
“You want to try to get the ball out of the hands of the guys that are designed to make plays,” Dinwiddie said. “You want the other guys beating you.”
Brooklyn held Utah to just 42 first-half points, the second-fewest of any first half this season, and the Jazz made just 8 of 32 3-pointers in the game.
“A really tough night shooting from the perimeter,” Hardy said. “Even when we were able to find 3-point looks we weren’t able to knock them down tonight.”
Brooklyn made 13 of its first 25 shots, including four of its first seven 3-pointers, and used a 20-5 run to build a 34-19 second-quarter lead.
TIP-INS Jazz: Center Walker Kessler (head) left the game in the third quarter and did not return. … Forward Rudy Gay (lower back) missed his sixth straight game, and guards Jordan Clarkson (left ring finger) and Collin Sexton (left hamstring) were also inactive. … Horton-Tucker started his 18th straight game, and Agbaji started his 16th in a row. … With one Sunday, Markkanen added to his NBA record for single-season 3-pointers among 7-footers (200)
Nets: Dinwiddie led the NBA with 146 assists in March. He is averaging 8.7 per game in 23 games since the Nets acquired him from Dallas in the Kyrie Irving trade Feb. 6.
Jazz: Host the Lakers on Tuesday
Nets: Host Minnesota on Tuesday