Giannis Antetokounmpo hit his three biggest shots. Kevin Durant misses his two.
Crunch time boiled down to a tense and physical battle for the stars as well as the referee, who provided the visiting defending champion Bucks a friendly whistle in their 120-119 overtime win over the Nets on Thursday.
In the process of overtaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the first time on Milwaukee’s all-time scoring list, Antetokounmpo, who dropped 44 points, tied it in regulation with a clutch 3-pointer and game-winning free throw with three seconds remaining in the OT. got caught. ,
Durant, who scored 26 points in 45 minutes, missed out on two potential buzzer-beating game-winners – one in regulation, one in overtime – and was disappointed.
He echoed teammate Kyrie Irving in calling the Bucks “reckless,” notably after Wes Matthews challenged a three-pointer in overtime and barreled into a jumper Durant during his shot attempt.
“I mean, we thought it was careless, right,” Durant said, his ankle twisted, but he wouldn’t lose time. “But I think technically I have to be in the air and get on his feet so he is dominant. But he can run on my feet though. … it was no contest. I thought it must have been a flag bearer. But technically, I didn’t play right to get flagrant. ,
If these NBA Titans meet in the playoffs again, Thursday becomes a short footnote. But Antetokounmpo was clearly the winner of this fight.
The free throw disparity was stark and a point of postgame contention. The Bucks took 34 as compared to 16 for the Nets. Durant, who was chased by doubles teams and dashed all game, did not go into the charity stripe until the final nine seconds, when he nailed three to give the nets a point. Edge. Antetokounmpo took 19 foul shots, including the game-winner.
“That was game,” Durant said. “More free throws than us.”
But the Nets too must blame themselves after a nine-point lead with three minutes left in regulation.
He picked up the pace with about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, when Bruce Brown ran for a breakaway and was pulled into the court by Milwaukee’s Chris Middleton. Brown fell hard and the impact was loud, with the crowd gasping for it. Middleton was knocked out early for Flagrant 2, and the Nets took the advantage by converting a three-point lead to 9 in about a minute.
Later, Irving called the Bucks.
“They were playing very physical. I think they were a little careless sometimes,” Irving said. “Just on a lot of his fouls. Or some of his fouls. They’re the same. But I think it was careless at times.”
There are seeds of a rivalry between the Bucks and the Nets. Beyond his playoff fight last year and Thursday’s hard foul on the Browns, Irving was taking exception to a play in the third quarter when Antetokounmpo stepped in front of the point guard in midcourt.
Irving jumped but could not avoid a hard hit, causing a blocking foul on Antetokounmpo. Irving got up but didn’t seem happy with the play. Added context is that Irving sprained Antetokounmpo’s leg during the playoffs last year, implying that the latter was also a reckless move.
“I’m not going to personal plays,” Irving said. “I’ll leave it to the people who are watching the game. But that’s just carelessness. Just getting in the way at a time when it’s easy sport to avoid.”
Still, the net could not finish the job. Antetokounmpo, an incredible three-point shooter, slid down the tying tray from a broken game with 18.7 seconds remaining in regulation. Durant then sank into traffic and missed his potential winner on the buzzer. It was the same in the OT, when Durant’s buzzer-beater went off an inbound.
“I felt like they both looked good leaving my hand,” Durant said. “That one – Giannis came in late but I still feel like I saw it well. Two guys on me and a seven-footer one on that. But I thought I got two good shots.”
The former is so overcrowded that plotting a first-round matchup is impossible, but the Nets vs. Bucks is a potential first-rounder. This is also something that both the teams want to avoid as both can be considered as title contenders.
But it will be fun.