SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Royce O'Neale walked gingerly onto the podium with an ice bag around each knee and reiterated the soaring confidence level among the Brooklyn Nets even with star Kevin Durant on the sidelines nursing a knee injury.
Taking down Stephen Curry and the defending NBA champions on their home floor sure doesn't hurt.
With the defense keying on Kyrie Irving, O'Neale hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 28.5 seconds left, and the Nets capitalized on Golden State's third straight game squandering a double-digit lead, beating the Warriors 120-116 on Sunday night.
“Kyrie had been getting to the basket, hitting tough shots and at that moment, he drove, two people double-teamed and he found me open," O'Neale said. “I just needed to have the confidence to knock it down.”
Golden State went ahead 106-93 on Klay Thompson's jumper with 6:57 to play then the Nets outscored the Warriors 27-10 the rest of the way.
Curry's two free throws with 1:12 remaining gave Golden State the lead moments after Irving's three-point play put Brooklyn ahead, then Irving missed on the other end facing defensive pressure from Thompson. Irving missed another try but Golden State got two more chances and both Curry and Kevon Looney missed with less than a minute left.
On the winning play, Irving drove, was smothered and dished the ball off.
"They did a great job of staying on my body, keeping the game physical, making it tough," Irving said. “I felt like my teammates had a lot of great looks, drawing the defense, drawing two, three to lose their man. Royce being wide open, I felt like that was the best shot for our team so I gave up the ball, trusted him to make it and luckily it went in.”
Irving finished with 38 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for a Nets team that won a second straight playing without Durant, who missed facing his former team after winning titles and NBA Finals MVP honors in 2017 and ’18 with Golden State.
Nic Claxton contributed career highs of 24 points and 15 rebounds with three blocks as the Nets won two in a row following a four-game losing streak that followed Durant getting hurt.
“It’s a lot of confidence going around, everybody’s taking the challenge, stepping up, finding out ways to win games,” O'Neale said.
Irving shot 12 for 22 with five 3-pointers coming off a spectacular 48-point performance in a 117-106 road win at Utah on Friday night in Brooklyn's first win since Durant sprained his right knee.
Curry had 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Little brother Seth Curry’s layup with 2:29 left pulled Brooklyn within 112-109 then Joe Harris tied it on a 3 the next time down.
Jordan Poole added 17 points for the Warriors, who used a 39-point second quarter to take charge but couldn't hold it.
“You give a team like that some life, they're really good,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Irving's 3-pointer at the 6:55 mark of the third tied the game and the Warriors led 90-86 heading into the final 12 minutes.
O'Neale scored 11 of his 16 points with three 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Donte DiVincenzo made all four of his 3-point tries in the first half and the Warriors led 70-53 late in the second before a 7-0 Nets run got Brooklyn within 72-60 at the break. DiVincenzo wound up with 13 points and eight assists and Jonathan Kuminga added 20 points in 25 minutes.
Poole stayed in the starting lineup in Looney's place after scoring 30 or more points in two of the previous three games.
Looney had 14 points and 10 boards and Draymond Green nine points, 11 rebounds and seven assists after Brooklyn whipped the Warriors 143-113 at home on Dec. 21 but without Curry and Thompson.
Thompson added 10 points as six Warriors scored in double figures.
Nets: F T.J. Warren was available and played 11 minutes after dealing with a bruised right knee. ... Seth Curry scored 12 points. ... Brooklyn matched the Warriors with 42 rebounds. ... The Nets improved to 5-6 on the road vs. the Western Conference.
Warriors: The Warriors dropped to 8-2 at home against teams with winning records coming into the game. ... Golden State has hit 15 or more 3s in 12 straight games. ... The Warriors scored 50 bench points in another big performance by the backups.