MILWAUKEE — Brooklyn coach Steve Nash wasn’t there to watch Giannis Antetokounmpo finish splitting the Nets.
Nash was ejected for the first time in his coaching career after arguing that Antetokounmpo should have been called for an offensive foul on Patty Mills while bringing the ball back downfield in the third quarter.
Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks dominated the rest of the way in a 110-99 win Wednesday night.
“I was just defending our guys,” said Nash, who was sent off twice during his 18-season playing career. “I thought Patty took a forearm to Giannis’ throat right in front of the ref. I didn’t think that was fair. I don’t think I was overly demonstrative. I was upset that I had the technique.
Antetokounmpo had 43 points, 14 rebounds and five assists. He scored 34 points in the second half.
That performance three nights after scoring 44 points and shooting 17 of 21 in a 125-105 rout of the Houston Rockets, marking only the fifth time in NBA history that a player has scored at least 44 points while playing less than 28 minutes.
“I’ve worked a lot these few years and this summer and I’m so eager to prove to myself that I can do what I’ve been working on, and sometimes I think I don’t play (to) my strength as much,” , Antetokounmpo said. “I kind of crossed that off, and in the second half I was just like, ‘OK, I’m going to be myself and be okay with this’ and I just tried to drive as much as possible and find my teammates and get in the paint.”
The Nets were leading 70-66 with about 4½ minutes left in the third quarter when Nash received a technical foul and then shouted his displeasure as assistant coach Jacque Vaughn and forward Royce O’Neale held him off. . Nash’s impassioned reaction resulted in a second technique that got him kicked out.
Milwaukee outshot the Nets 44-29 the rest of the way.
After shooting just 3 of 10 in the first half, Antetokounmpo went 13 of 15 the rest of the way. He scored 34 points in the second half as the Bucks outscored the Nets 67-44 over the final two periods.
“It’s vintage Giannis,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “That’s probably the best – he had a lot of great performances – tonight in the second half he did it all. He was phenomenal.
Bobby Portis had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Milwaukee, and Jrue Holiday added 15 points.
Kevin Durant scored 33, Kyrie Irving 27 and Royce O’Neale 12 for the Nets.
Irving scored 11 straight points in Brooklyn and sank a jumper that tied the game at 83 with 10:09 remaining, but the Nets went scoreless for the next 5 1/2 minutes as Milwaukee built a 10-point lead .
Durant finally ended Brooklyn’s drought with a layup with 4:37 left, the first time a Net other than Irving had scored since Day’Ron Sharpe’s free throw with 3:02 left. in the third period.
Nets: Brooklyn played a second straight game without Markieff Morris, absent for personal reasons. Seth Curry (left ankle) and TJ Warren (left foot) are yet to make their season debuts. Nash said before the game that Curry would practice Thursday with the NBA G League affiliate team. … Nash said before the game that he wanted to see Ben Simmons regain “that joy of playing the game” as the three-time All-Star returns after missing the entire 2021-22 season and undergoing back surgery. Simmons had four points, five rebounds and nine assists on Wednesday. He didn’t score more than seven points in any of Brooklyn’s first four games.
Bucks: The Bucks continue to play without Khris Middleton (wrist), Pat Connaughton (calf) and Joe Ingles (knee). … A minute’s silence was observed before the match in honor Keith Carrington, who had served as the Fiserv Forum’s Senior Events Security Supervisor since 2018. Carrington died during the offseason.
Nets: Host the Mavericks on Thursday in the first of four straight home games.
Bucks: Host the New York Knicks on Friday in Game 3 of a season-high six-game homestand.
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