Nets Crumble Late as Bucks Earn Tiebreaker

C

Final: 05/04/2021

L 118 124

With the momentum on Brooklyn’s side while fighting from a five-point deficit with over a minute remaining, the ball found Kevin Durant’s hands. His three-point shot was off the mark, but Bruce Brown got him another look.

Another three-point attempt, another miss.

The ball clanked off the rim as the Nets’ chances at taking a win against the Bucks crumbled. Milwaukee followed up their victory on Sunday with a 124-118 win over the Nets on Tuesday, a result that also gives them the tiebreaker if the Nets and Bucks were to tie in the standings at the conclusion of the regular season.

The Bucks won three quarters on the night, including a 32-24 advantage in the fourth quarter, but it was a dominant third quarter that showed Brooklyn had the ability to take the win this time around. After entering the half with a two-point lead, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who combined for 70 points, had a scoring outburst as the Nets out-scored Milwaukee 36-26 to take as large as a six-point lead.

Brooklyn was able to acquire stops as the duo shined, but the result in many aspects came down to pure hustle. The Bucks out-worked the Nets on the offensive glass, 15-6, while Donte DiVincenzo was a thorn in Brooklyn’s side with six offensive boards recorded on his own.

Giannis Antetokoumpo (36) and Khris Middleton (23) helped lead an 18-1 run in the fourth quarter that gave the Bucks as large as an 11-point lead while attacking the paint with little resistance by the Nets’ defense. The Nets came within four points of the Bucks after a 10-3 run down the stretch, but the pieces just could not fall into place — Durant’s missed three-pointers were just a confirmation of what had been shaping up throughout the fourth quarter.

Brooklyn made an impressive 20 three-pointers on the night but also left points on the court with a 16-26 performance at the free-throw line. Milwaukee registered 14 more field goal attempts than the Nets as they out-worked them for second chances and out-scored them 44-30 in the paint.

It was a closely-contest two-game series in Milwaukee, but it is more clear now than ever that it will not be easy for the Nets to escape as the last team standing in the Eastern Conference come the postseason. The Kyrie and KD show can be thrilling to watch, but the return of James Harden will make this a whole new ballgame — Brooklyn first needs to reach that point first and adjust in the meantime.

Maybe the two losses will light a fire under Brooklyn to close the season on a high note. Next up, the Nets visit a Mavericks team that will be motivated as it fights to stay in the No. 6 seed in the West. 

Kyrie Irving

A-

The stats: 38 PTS, 14-25 FG, 6-12 3PT, 4-5 FT, 3 REB, 5 AST, 3 STL, 2 BLK, 3 TO, 39 MIN

Kyrie’s offense was much-improved following a down game on Sunday

Kyrie had his three-point shot working to help the Nets stay competitive in this one. He also had a big game on the defensive end as he recorded three steals and two blocks.

Kyrie, alongside KD, came alive mainly in the third quarter as the Nets got stops. Still, he needed more from his supporting cast as the Bucks shot ahead in the fourth.

Kevin Durant

A

The stats: 32 PTS, 11-22 FG, 4-8 3PT, 6-7 FT, 9 REB, 6 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 3 TO, 40 MIN

KD put on a show yet again.

KD quickly filled up the stat sheet as he picked up where he left off on Sunday. He stepped up on both ends of the court, even drawing a charge against Giannis in the second quarter that gave the Greek Freak his third foul of the game.

The missed three-pointers hurt, but KD (of course) is not the reason the Nets lost this one. Individual greatness is not enough for Brooklyn to defeat top-level team efforts, and that was the case over the past two results. 

Joe Harris

B

The stats: 12 PTS, 4-10 FG, 4-8 3PT, 2 REB, 1 AST, 2 TO, 33 MIN

The Nets missed Joe’s touch on Sunday and got more of a boost from him on Tuesday.

Joe had two three-pointers in the first quarter but then again became quiet for the rest of the game. He drained some timely three-pointers later on, but they were not enough to allow the Nets to fight all the way back.

Joe played a role in Brooklyn’s big third quarter but was not always effective in his matchups defensively. Maybe fatigue is setting in from playing every game this year, but another level up from Joe could make a big difference for the Nets in games like this one.

Mike James

B+

The stats: 10 PTS, 4-6 FG, 2-3 3PT, 1 REB, 3 AST, 10 MIN

Mike James had a great showing in his limited minutes.

Mike James is a natural bucket-getter and wasted little time with getting some shots to go down against Milwaukee. He also looked great running the court with some great finds to his teammates.

Mike James is doing his best to impress after being signed to a second 10-day contract. He gave great minutes off the bench as the Nets were in need of supportive performances alongside Kyrie and KD. 

Jeff Green

C+

The stats: 10 PTS, 3-5 FG, 2-3 3PT, 2-6 FT, 5 REB, 1 AST, 34 MIN

Jeff Green had his moments but struggled to break through against Milwaukee’s defense.

Jeff cashed in on two three-pointers but also contributed to the Nets’ struggles at the line. Meanwhile, another night lined up against Giannis made for another tough assignment — though KD also took some turns against the Greek Freak.

It was not Jeff’s most effective night as he had a team-worst -18 plus/minus. We know how impactful Jeff can be, but the Nets need more size against the Bucks if they meet again in the postseason. 

News from Around NYC