In a game that was about so much more than the game, the Nets took this one down to crunch time, over, and over, and over, and over again.
It was a battle of veteran guile vs. youthful athleticism — right down to the coaches, even — that could’ve easily gone either way. Literally.
Both teams had a shot to win in the waning seconds of regulation and overtime, and Bucks guard Brandon Knight quite literally missed a wide-open, point-blank layup to end the first overtime. The miss gave the Nets new life, but Knight redeemed himself in the second overtime, burying a three-pointer on the left wing to once again tie the game in the second overtime.
In the third, the Bucks took an early lead and the Nets couldn’t scramble to come back, with a missed three-pointer by Bojan Bogdanovic on a perfect look sealing their fate.
Look, the Bucks are legit: they’ve got great athletes, Kidd’s wonky coaching style suits how they play, and their record to this point is no accident. But the Nets desperately wanted to pull this one out, to shut Kidd down on his old home court, and they couldn’t do it, leaving home 4-7, against the guy that embarrassed him this summer.
Like I said: stinging.
Some big plays down the stretch for Lopez, who is generally not accustomed to playing big minutes, coupled with a few miscues, notably posting up from 20 feet away and fumbling away a turnover down the stretch in the second overtime.
Looked for his own shot early — what else is new? — but outscored his Monday night output by the time the first quarter had ended, and ended up playing into the second quarter despite not sitting at all in the first.
Struggled with rebounding — again, what else is new? — and traveled early like he was on vacation, but strung together some easy baskets en route to another 20-point performance, the strongest an emphatic put-back dunk in regulation.
That dunk aside, he still doesn’t look comfortable on either side of the ball. The Nets were outscored heartily on second-chance points and points off turnovers, and Lopez was the biggest factor in both. Patience is a virtue for a big man returning from major foot surgery, you have to wonder: how long is he going to look off-kilter?