The Brooklyn Nets defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 119-116 on Tuesday afternoon inside the Orlando bubble.
With the win, the Nets tied the Magic for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Eric Bledsoe (18 minutes, 8 points, 4 assists) and Pat Connaughton (18 minutes, 8 points, 5 rebounds) both returned to action for the first time since the restart. Bledsoe and Connaughton had been sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Bucks were still not at full strength as Wesley Matthews (calf) and Brook Lopez (rest) cheered from the bench.
The Nets were also missing a trio of starters. Jarret Allen (rest), Joe Harris (hamstring/back) and Caris Lavert were all absent from the lineup that is already missing stars like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Spencer Dinwiddie for the rest of the year.
After turning the ball over 22 times on Sunday against the Rockets, the Bucks picked up where they left off and coughed up the ball on the first play. The offense quickly centered itself with some hot shooting. Giannis was perfect from the field, including two three-pointers, and six Bucks made a three (Giannis, Middleton, Hill, Williams, DiVincenzo, Kover).
While the offense was clicking, the defense was not. The Nets dropped a 40-piece in the first quarter and shot 52% from the field. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot attacked the basket and scored the first bucket of the game, finishing the first quarter with 10 points on 4-4 shooting.
40-year-old Jamal Crawford made his return to NBA action memorable with some vintage ball-handling, a few saucy assists and a long three.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 4, 2020
Nets 40 Bucks 36
During a box out attempt, Donta Hall shoved Giannis to the ground, which led to play being stopped and the separation of the two players. The end result of the scuffle was a double foul and a jump ball at half court.
Giannis and Donta Hall get into a scuffle 😳 pic.twitter.com/FHEsFrIf9b
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 4, 2020
The Bucks continued their hot shooting in the 2nd quarter and ultimately shot 57% from the field as a team in the first half, with eight players scoring at least 5 points (Giannis, Middleton, Hill, Bledsoe, Williams, Kover, DiVincenzo, Mason). However, turnovers remain an issue, as the Bucks turned the ball over nine times in the first half.
The Nets continued their offensive onslaught as all 11 players who touched the floor recorded a field goal. Luwawu-Cabarrot led the way with 17 points on 6-9 shooting, while Justin Anderson (11 points) and Rodney Kurucs (10 points) both scored in double digits.
Halftime: Nets 73 Bucks 65
Coming out of halftime, Coach Mike Budenholzer earned a technical foul for arguing with an official during the break. It appeared he was upset at the technical foul given to Ilyasova in the first half and the officials’ handling of the Giannis/Hall scuffle.
Giannis and Middleton did not play after the first half, as Budenholzer ran out a lineup consisting of Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, Sterling Brown, Ersan Ilyasova and Robin Lopez.
The new lineup lacked firepower, but it was able to slow the Nets’ offense down for the first time in the game.
Nets 94 Bucks 88
After a thunderous poster-slam from DJ Wilson, the Nets called a timeout.
DJ WILSON! 😱 pic.twitter.com/qoIrYxozFQ
— Cream City Central (@CreamCityCtral) August 4, 2020
After the timeout, DJ Wilson had another dunk on a fast break and a corner three to give the Bucks a 107-104 lead.
Luwawu-Cabarrot hit back-to-back threes to recapture the lead for the Nets.
Garret Temple hit a mid-range jumper to extend the Nets lead to 119-116 with six seconds remaining.
The Bucks had one last chance to extend the game to overtime, but they could not even get a shot up as DiVincenzo turned the ball over.
Final Nets 119 Bucks 116