Bucks 124, Nets 118: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant Combine for 70 Points for Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Nets came away empty in their two-game set with the Bucks in Milwaukee, dropping their second game in three days to the Bucks, 124-118 on Tuesday night.

After Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving powered a high-scoring third quarter that drove the Nets to a 94-92 lead going into the fourth quarter, it was an 18-1 Milwaukee run that turned the tide in giving the Bucks a double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter. Brooklyn cut that deficit to four points with a minute to go before the Bucks closed it out.

“We had a poor stretch,” said Nets head coach Steve Nash. “I think it was a little bit of a photo of the night in general that they were just overall more physical than us at both ends of the floor. Our team, our gap for our team is that we don't have a common history. We’re brand new, everything's new. We've changed teams more or less a number of times, so we’ve got a gap to make up as far as our understanding of one another.

“And while we make up that gap, we’ve got to be more physical, we’ve got to win 50-50 balls, and we’ve got to do the dirty work, because we have to give ourselves some sort of buffer while we figure each other out, while we get more familiar with our schemes and our sets, and give us give ourself that little cushion, where maybe it's not as smooth, it's not as seamless at all times, but we're still able to scrap and claw and stay in the games.”

The Nets (43-23) are now 1½ games ahead of the Bucks (41-24) for second place in the Eastern Conference with six games left in the regular season for Brooklyn and seven for Milwaukee.

Irving finished with 38 points on 14-of-25 shooting plus five assists, and Durant had 32 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

Joe Harris scored 12 points and Mike James and Jeff Green had 10 apiece for Brooklyn.

While the Nets limited the Bucks to 44.9 percent shooting, they gave up 15 offensive rebounds — part of being outrebounded 55-39 — and 20 second-chance points.

“I think it tells a story of a slightly bigger picture than just the rebounds,” said Nash. “But they did a great job being physical at both ends. They got a lot of offensive rebounds, they got into us defensively.”

Milwaukee seized an early 14-9 lead after a 10-0 run. A pair of Harris 3-pointers had the Nets back within 29-28, and when Durant closed the opening quarter with a three-point play, Brooklyn trailed 34-33 going into the second quarter.

Brooklyn jumped into the lead with a 7-2 run to start the second quarter, with a James 3-pointer putting the Nets up 40-36. There were five ties over the next several minutes, the last when Landry Shamet’s 3-pointer evened the game at 55. But the Bucks ran off nine straight points on the way to going into halftime up 66-58.

After the Bucks had extended their lead to 78-68 midway through the third quarter, the Nets outscored them 26-14 over the final 6:32 of the quarter. Irving and Durant combined for 30 of Brooklyn’s 36 points in the quarter as the Nets went up 94-92 going into the fourth quarter.

With the Bucks leading 85-78, the Nets put together an 11-3 run. Irving converted a three-point play and Durant followed with a 3-pointer. Durant hit two free throws and knocked down a pull-up 3-pointer with 54.2 seconds to go in the quarter for an 89-88 lead. With the game tied at 92, Blake Griffin’s two free throws with 2.7 seconds left in the quarter gave the Nets their two-point edge going into the fourth.

The Nets got early threes from Green, Griffin, and James in the fourth quarter to go up 103-97, but the Bucks flipped that into a 115-104 lead with 5:53 to go after an 18-1 run.

With Milwaukee leading 119-108, Irving hit a 3-pointer and Durant finished a drive, and after a Khris Middleton floater for Milwaukee, Harris hit a 3-pointer to bring the Nets within 121-116 with 1:47 remaining. With 1:02 left in the game, Irving’s two free throws made it a 122-118 game.

“We maybe took some risks there, you know what I'm saying,” said Durant of the Milwaukee run. “Probably could have maybe made an extra pass or two but some of those risks you gotta live with especially when guys are knocking down shots. Kyrie was knocking down shots, I was making a few shots so we can watch film and see which possessions we could have been better in, but I like our aggressiveness. I like how we were trying to get into the paint and get to the free throw line but the team got hot. They're team got hot, we didn't rebound enough, they shot 14 more shots than us and a team like that we can't allow that to happen.”