Nets take advantage after Steve Nash was sent off in loss to Bucks

MILWAUKEE — Steve Nash lost his temper at first. Then the Nets lost the game.

Nash the loser probably shocked the basketball world. But the loss? The Nets who blew a third-quarter lead to crumble in a 110-99 loss to the Bucks probably came as no surprise to a soul that has seen them play this season.

The Nets led by 12 heading out of the locker room at halftime and led 70-66 with 4:24 remaining in the third quarter. But the image of Nash’s normally soft eyes bulging and cold start is what will emerge from this loss. The Nets coach was escorted out after a pair of technical fouls as the sold-out crowd of 17,341 at the Fiserv Forum roared.

The Nets immediately gave up six unanswered runs and never led again. Milwaukee’s run went 11-2 on a Bobby Portis tip. It made it 77-72 with 2:08 to go in the third, but that contest was over.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated the second half, finishing with a game-high 43 points on 16-of-25 shooting. He had just nine points on a 3-for-10 shot at halftime, before breaking the Nets in the second period. The two-time MVP scored 34 points on 13 of 15 shooting after intermission.

Kevin Durant and the Nets had few answers for Giannis Antentkounmpo.
Getty Images

Kevin Durant had 33 points and six rebounds to lead the Nets, while Kyrie Irving added 27 points and nine rebounds. But the Nets squandered the big two games falling to 1-3.

The Nets actually wasted promising signs.

Ben Simmons was actually ready to attack the paint and drive to the cup. Even when he found luge difficult against Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee’s top-ranked defense, the Nets benefited early from his improved aggression.

Both teams started slow on offense, and the score was tied at 7-all with 6:36 left in the first quarter. The Nets took an 11-10 lead on a Durant free throw with just over four minutes left in the first, before the Bucks scored eight unanswered runs.

The Nets fell behind by seven on a 3-point Portis, and his layup left them down 34-31 with 7:40 left in the first half. But that’s when the Nets turned the tide — at least temporarily — and closed the half on a 24-9 run.

The Nets’ league-worst defense held Milwaukee 4-for-12 shooting the rest of the half, forcing three turnovers.

And in the middle of this race, they may have found something that works.

Simmons returned for Nic Claxton with 4:22 remaining, earning his first extended run this season as a 5-point small back. Until wednesday.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash held off after being given a technical foul
Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash is held off after being called a technical foul.

The Nets, who had struggled with spacing when Simmons was on the floor with other non-shooters, such as centers Claxton or Day’Ron Sharpe, hit five of seven shots in the stretch and had a run of 16-7.

But they couldn’t maintain their lead at half-time.

The Nets led late in the third quarter when things got messy and Nash was rocked. With the Nets defending, Patty Mills was knocked to the ground by a forearm shot from Antetokounmpo, but there was no whistle. Nash protested.

About 10 seconds later, the Nets forced a miss and Durant grabbed the rebound in the middle of contact, again with no appeal.

Nash, still protesting, was then whistled for a technical foul and was in complete disbelief. Replays show him pointing to himself in shock and mouthing « On me!? » He sprinted along the sideline to give referee Josh Tiven a listening ear, and drew a second technical ejection – and one that followed.

The normally mild-mannered Nash had to be restrained by Royce O’Neale and senior assistant Jacque Vaughn before finally being whisked away. Vaughn, who had served as Nash’s predecessor as interim coach and served as defensive coordinator for the past three seasons, ended the game as head coach.

George Hill sank both technical free throws after Nash was ejected, and Antetokounmpo followed with a driving layup to tie the score at 70-70 with 3:59 left in the third.

A Portis comeback 30 seconds later gave the Bucks the lead and put the Nets behind for good.


Back to top button