The Nets got here to Milwaukee atop the Jap Convention. After getting swept by the Bucks in an enormous two-game collection, they left as shut to 3rd place as to first.
They blew a fourth-quarter lead and imploded in a 124-118 loss earlier than a sellout crowd of three,280 at Fiserv Discussion board. And it could develop into a expensive defeat.
The Bucks (41-24) seemed hungrier. Nastier. And — with James Harden nonetheless out with a proper hamstring pressure — Milwaukee seemed higher.
Kyrie Irving had a game-high 38 factors and Kevin Durant added 32. However Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 36 for the Bucks, who gouged the Nets on the glass 55-39, and flipped the sport with an 18-1 fourth-quarter run.
After arriving in first place within the East, a half-game forward of the 76ers, the Nets (43-23) misplaced Sunday and Tuesday. Not solely have they fallen 1 ½ video games behind idle Philadelphia, however they’re now additionally simply 1 ½ away from the hard-charging Bucks.
The Nets even have misplaced the season-series tiebreaker to Milwaukee and sit only a recreation forward within the loss column, so even holding on to the second seed isn’t any positive factor. Not with Philadelphia having fun with the simplest stretch run in the complete NBA, and Milwaukee having the fourth-softest within the East earlier than Tuesday.
The Nets might effectively come to rue this one. They led 103-97 early within the fourth quarter, solely to give up that game-deciding 18-1 run.
The Nets had been 0-for-5 with a few turnovers in the course of the skid, which lasted greater than 4 minutes. Milwaukee, in the meantime, went eight-for-14, together with an all-too-easy drive by Khris Middleton (23 factors).
Middleton’s driving floater got here towards no defensive resistance in any way, making the Nets’ deficit 115-104 with 5:52 to play.
A ten-3 Nets run finally lower the deficit to 122-118 on free throws by Irving with a minute left. However they obtained no nearer.
Whereas loads can occur between now and the regular-season finale, the Nets and Bucks are on a collision course to fulfill within the second spherical.
The Nets gained the primary assembly, Jan. 18 at Barclays Middle. That, nonetheless, was behind 34 factors, 12 rebounds and 6 assists from Harden, the third MVP on these groups’ rosters (after Durant and Antetokounmpo), and one who might tilt the deck in direction of the Nets. They hope.
Harden was sorely missed in these final two losses.
Irving’s pull-up 3-pointer gave the Nets a 51-48 lead with 6:15 left within the second quarter, however they allowed an 18-7 run to shut out the half down by eight.
It was knotted at 55-all after a Landry Shamet 3-pointer with 4:02 remaining earlier than the break. However the Nets instantly went ice-cold and gave up the momentum.
The Nets missed six straight photographs and dedicated a few turnovers in conceding 9 unanswered factors.
Irving’s turnover off an inbound move led to a Bobby Portis transition dunk. And Middleton’s free throws left the Nets in a 64-55 gap that proved too deep to climb out of.
They went three minutes with out a level, and three:34 with out a basket, till Irving’s layup with 28.5 seconds left within the half. That drought price them dearly.
It might not be clear how a lot it prices till the common season is completed and the playoff seeds are set.
The Nets nonetheless trailed 78-68 after a Jrue Vacation 3-pointer with 6:55 to go within the third quarter. However after having gone massive to begin off the sport, unsuccessfully, the Nets went small and located not less than just a little success. A ten-3 run obtained them inside 81-78 on an Irving financial institution shot.
Down 85-78 after an Antetokounmpo finger roll with 2:51 remaining within the third, the Nets closed the interval on a 16-7 spurt. Bruce Brown got here in and introduced some much-needed grit, and the sport virtually immediately obtained chippier.
Durant hit a 3-pointer to place the Nets again forward 89-88, and he obtained into some long-running trash speak with P.J. Tucker that lasted a number of possessions. Blake Griffin obtained hit with a technical, and the Nets pulled forward 94-92 after three.
Each Irving and Durant sat to open the fourth, however Mike James discovered first Jeff Inexperienced, then Griffin for nook 3s to pad the result in 100-95. He hit a side-step 3-pointer of his personal to make it 103-97. However it was a lead the Nets couldn’t maintain.