The Nets lost for the second time this season to their nemesis, Jason Kidd, as the Bucks stormed back from a 17-point deficit to beat the Nets 103-97 on Monday night in Milwaukee.
Kidd, who coached the Nets for one season, forced his way out of Brooklyn this past offseason to become the Bucks Head Coach. From a basketball standpoint, Kidd made the correct move, as he has a young, dynamic roster which includes Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jared Dudley, Khris Middleton, Brandon Knight, and the second pick in the 2014 Draft, Jabari Parker, who is out for the rest of this season with a knee injury.
The first time the Nets faced Kidd and his new team this season was in Brooklyn on November 19th. The game was a classic that went into triple overtime and was won by Milwaukee 122-118.
That game was a statement win for the Bucks, and that was a confidence-builder for Kidd’s young team that has a 29-23 record and is in 6th place in the Eastern Conference. For the Nets, that began a tailspin that left them at 10-15 in mid-December. After racing to .500, at 16-16, on January 2nd, wins have been hard to come by and the Nets are now 21-30, in ninth place in the East.
In this one, the Nets came out firing, putting up 30 points in the first quarter to take a 30-24 lead at the end of the frame. Brooklyn opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run and expanded that lead to 17 points, at 41-24, on a Bojan Bogdanovic three at the 7:45 mark.
Milwaukee did not score a point in the second until the 7:05 mark when Giannis Antetokounmpo made a pair of free throws. That began a 12-2 run over the next three minutes capped by a Jared Dudley three that cut the Nets’ lead to 43-36.
Former Nets point guard Jorge Gutierrez (who they could have used when Deron Williams was out in January) is now on Milwaukee, reuniting with fellow Cal Golden Bear Jason Kidd, who he liked a lot when he coached him in Brooklyn. Gutierrez got a jumper that made it 48-42 Nets with 2:10 left in the second. That was his only basket in 9 minutes of action, in which he also got a rebound and racked up a nice +7 rating.
Dudley hit a three to cut it to five, 50-45 Nets, and John Henson made a couple of free throws to keep it at five, 52-47, at halftime.
All of the Nets’ flaws came out in the third quarter, as they could not keep up with the younger, faster Bucks. Miwaukee took a 60-58 lead on Brandon Knight free throws at the 8:15 mark, and that was their first lead from when it was 3-2.
Brook Lopez made a jumper at the 5:48 mark to make it 66-64 Milwaukee, and that was the last field goal the Nets would make until Lopez got a basket with 3 seconds left. In that time, the Nets were outscored 13-2, with the only Nets points coming on two Bojan Bogdanovic free throws. Milwaukee outscored the Nets 32-16 to take a 79-68 lead into the fourth. They outscored the Nets 55-27 from when the Nets had a commanding 41-24 lead, a stunning 28-point turnaround.
The Nets pulled to within five points twice in the fourth, on a Bogdanovic jumper that made it 84-79 with 7:33 left and on a Joe Johnson three with 5:58 left that made it 89-84 Bucks. O.J. Mayo hit four consecutive free throws over the next 40 seconds to give the Bucks back their nine-point lead, 93-84. Jerryd Bayless drained a three with 2-05 left to make it 97-86, and Jarrett Jack responded with a jumper and a three to cut it six, at 97-91. On Milwaukee’s ensuing possession, Brook Lopez took a technical for a hard foul on Zaza Pachulia. Bayless hit the technical free throw and Pachulia made one of the two free throws resulting from the foul to make it 99-91 Bucks with 1:21 left, and that sealed the win.
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of the second quarter when the game turned, “We have to keep scoring, we can’t have those lulls, and if we had kept scoring, then maybe we get a stop here and a stop there and we have our chances. We still had our chances in the fourth quarter. Coming down the stretch, we had three or four wide-open threes that we don’t make, and that was pretty much the ballgame.
“We had 16 turnovers, we held them to 41 percent shooting, but they get 14 offensive rebounds, so they wound up getting 89 shots off to our 76 shots because of offensive rebounds and our turnovers, they only had 10 turnovers, so, you know, we competed, played well, just couldn’t make plays when we needed to,” said Hollins.
The Bucks had five players in double figures, led by Dudley, who had 19 points on 7-for-10 from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 on threes, with 4 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 assists. Middleton had 18 points on 9-for-15 from the field, 0-2 on threes, with 4 rebounds, 4 steals, an assist, and a block. Mayo had 15 points off the bench on 4-for-10 shooting (0-2 on threes) and he was 7-8 on free throws, with 2 assists and 2 rebounds. Antetokounmpo had 12 points (4-9 overall, 0-1 on threes), 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 steals. John Henson had 10 points (4-9 FG), 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
The Nets were led by Jarrett Jack, who had 26 points (10-15 FG, 4-5 on threes), 8 assists, and 4 rebounds. Joe Johnson had a nice night, with 19 points (8-16 FG, 3-7 on threes), 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and a block. Mason Plumlee had 13 points (4-8 FG), 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block. Bogdanovic had 13 points (4-9 FG, 1-5 on threes, 6 rebounds, a steal, and a block. Brook Lopez had an off night, as he was held to 10 points (first time in a while he was outscored by Plumlee) on 5-7 from the field, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and an steal. Deron Williams was held scoreless, as he was 0-for-5 from the field, including 0-for-3 on threes, with 4 assists and 2 rebounds in 23 minutes.
The Nets have another reunion game of sorts on Tuesday night, as Lionel Hollins makes his return to Memphis to face his former team, the Grizzlies.