In instant classic, Nets fall to Bucks in crushing overtime loss

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dribbles the ball against Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the first half at Barclays Center.
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

If Thursday’s game between the Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks was a preview of what could come in the playoffs, it surely didn’t disappoint.

But in the end, the Nets fell just short of the Bucks in overtime and fell 120-119 at Barclays Center. It was a pair of foul shots by Giannis Antetokounmpo that sealed the win as a last-second shot by Kevin Durant didn’t fall as the Nets’ hopes were dashed.

The loss pushed the Nets into a three-way tie for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and makes Saturday’s game with Atlanta even more crucial. Durant and Kyrie Irving combined for 51 points, but it was the little mistakes that cost Brooklyn a win at different points of the night.

The Nets had taken a seven-point lead after Durant had hit a pull-up jumper with just over two minutes left in the game, but the Bucks quickly made that disappear. Bobby Portis cut the lead to five with 1:51 left and Jrue Holiday hit two free throws with 1:14 still on the clock

Antetokounmpo forced the game into overtime after he knocked down a stepback three with 18.7 remaining and Durant missed a last-second shot to win the game. The Nets and Bucks continued to trade shots in the extra period, but the game was decided on the charity stripe in the end.

Durant finished the game with 26 points on 10-of-21 shooting, while Irving had 25 and shot 4-of-9 from beyond the arc. Bruce Brown had 23 points while logging 34 minutes in the loss and Seth Curry had 16 while knocking down four three-pointers.

Nic Claxton, whose foul in the final seconds of the quarter sent Antetokounmpo to the line, had 11 points against Milwaukee. The Nets shot 46.4% from the field and 48.6% from beyond the arc, but only completed 68.8% of their free throws.

The disparity in the fouls called on Thursday night was glaring between the Nets and Bucks. Milwaukee was sent to the foul line 34 times compared to just the 16 times that Brooklyn found itself at the charity stripe.

In the end, it was the Nets’ mistakes that cost them in a game that had all the makings of a playoff atmosphere. The Barclays Center crowd was as amped as ever during the course of the night and the building roared when it looked like the Nets would come away with the win.

The Nets weren’t able to close out the second and third quarters, allowing the Bucks to go on a 17-10 run to end the half and a 23-13 run when the buzzer sounded after three-quarters of play. Brooklyn also turned the ball over 16 times for 25 points and was outrebounded 57-41.

That included the Bucks getting an 11-5 advantage in offensive boards and a 46-36 edge on the defensive side.

The Nets suffered a pair of scary incidents during the course of the game. First Bruce Brown was fouled hard by Kris Middleton going for a breakaway dunk which sent him crashing to the floor on his wrist.

Brown was alright and Middleton was ejected after the officials ruled it a Flagrant 2. Then in overtime, Holiday fouled Durant as he was going for a corner three and sent him to the ground.

Durant appeared to hold his ankle briefly before getting up and trying to walk off the incident.