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By Brian Mahoney | Associated Press
NEW YORK -- Paul Pierce scored 17 of his 22 points in a flawless first quarter, and the Brooklyn Nets quickly pulled away in the second on the way to their 12th straight home victory, 108-97 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
Joe Johnson added 14 points for the Nets, who played three straight overtime games on their road trip, losing the last two of them. But things were much easier back home, where they won for the 19th time in their last 21 games.
They are hoping to open the playoffs here, but still have work to do to catch either Toronto or Chicago for home-court advantage in the first round.
The Nets were without Kevin Garnett for a 15th straight game because of back spasms and Andrei Kirilenko for a third in a row because of a sprained left ankle, but had six players score in double figures and shot 55 percent from the field. They scored the first 12 points of the second quarter to break away from a 29-all tie, and Cleveland never put much of a dent in the lead.
Luol Deng and Dion Waiters each scored 20 points for the Cavaliers, who had won three in a row.
They had pulled off a pair of big fourth-quarter comebacks during the win streak, beating Detroit on Wednesday on Waiters' jumper as time expired, but there was no run in this one.
Deron Williams and Alan Anderson each scored 13 points for Brooklyn, which improved to 11-4 this month and can tie the franchise record for most victories in March by beating Minnesota here Sunday night.
Williams made a 3-pointer and Pierce hit two straight for a 9-0 Brooklyn lead, and Pierce was 4 for 4 before the first was half over.
But Spencer Hawes and Deng led a solid finish to the quarter that allowed Cleveland to tie it at 29.
The Nets were even better to open the second, scoring 12 straight to make it 41-29 on Anderson's 3-pointer. The lead reached 17 on a 3-pointer by Pierce with 2:05 remaining, and Brooklyn took a 61-50 lead into halftime. Six players had at least four points in the quarter.
Cleveland cut Brooklyn's 16-point lead in the third in half by the end of the quarter, but the Nets quickly regained control by opening the fourth with an 8-1 spurt for a 15-point cushion.
NOTES: Brooklyn's Jorge Gutierrez made some money and lost some Friday. Shortly after the Nets signed him to a multiyear deal after the expiration of his second 10-day contract, the rookie point guard was fined $15,000 by the NBA for making excessive contact above the shoulders when he fouled Charlotte's Cody Zeller on Wednesday. ... After opening the season against each other with the Cavs' win in Cleveland on Oct. 30, they will finish things off in the same spot on April 16.