NEW YORK (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 31 points in his
return from a one-game absence, Khris Middleton added 15 of his 20
in the third quarter and the Milwaukee Bucks blew out the Brooklyn
Nets 121-109 on Friday night.
Bobby Portis scored 20 of his 25 in the first half to help the
Bucks snap a two-game skid. The last loss came without
Antetokounmpo, who didn't play Wednesday night against Toronto
because of an illness unrelated to COVID-19.
The Bucks are without coach Mike Budenholzer, point guard Jrue
Holiday and a number of other key players because of coronavirus
health and safety protocols, but got big games from some who did
play. Antetokounmpo had nine assists and seven rebounds, and Portis
grabbed 12 boards.
Kevin Durant had 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for
the Nets, who have lost five straight home games. James Harden
finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Brooklyn won Wednesday night in Indiana with Kyrie Irving making
his season debut. He wasn't in the building Friday, ineligible to
play home games because he hasn't been vaccinated against COVID-19
as mandated for New York City's professional athletes.
Back on the court where they won Game 7 in overtime in last
season’s Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bucks made clear early
this one wouldn’t be going down to the wire.
Portis scored 10 points in the first quarter, though it should
have been 12. He missed a breakaway dunk with no Nets player
He had 10 more in the second, sending Milwaukee to the half with
a 60-49 lead even though Antetokounmpo played just 2 1/2 minutes of
the period before going to the bench with a third foul.
Middleton took over from there, making three 3-pointers — one
while being fouled — during a 19-4 spurt in the third that extended
a nine-point lead to 87-63 at the midway point of the period.
Bucks: Milwaukee signed guards Langston Galloway and Jeff Dowtin
to 10-day hardship contracts Friday. Galloway recently finished a
stint with the Nets, appearing in four games during two 10-day
contracts. ... Acting coach Darvin Ham, on being back at the site
of the playoff thriller: “Great memories, but it’s 2022,” he
Nets: Durant moved ahead of Patrick Ewing (24,815 points) into
23rd place on the career scoring list. ... Nicolas Claxton and Cam
Thomas each scored 14 points.
Patty Mills shot 1 for 8 for three points. He returned to his
reserve role when Irving played Wednesday, but was back in the
starting lineup again Friday. Coach Steve Nash said the Nets need
to keep Mills in the lineup at home while starting swingman Joe
Harris is recovering from left ankle surgery.
“I think the Kyrie situation hopefully helps Patty,” Nash said.
“I think we’ve seen him kind of almost be overused and
over-depended on, and I think it’s been difficult for him at times
to be able to continue his level of play because we’ve overburdened
him. So, can Kyrie keep his minutes in a sweet spot where he can
keep it consistently high level?”
Ham, on what it feels like to in the head coach's seat:
“It feels weird and feels intense and I like it, but I also like
not being in it at this point in time. Bud makes it look effortless
man, but I've seen what he goes through being with him since Day
Bucks: At Charlotte on Saturday night.
Nets: Host San Antonio on Sunday.