Harden-less Nets hammer Bucks for 2-0 series edge
Kevin Durant scored 32 points in three quarters and the Brooklyn Nets did not miss a beat without James Harden, cruising to a 125-86 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in New York.
The second-seeded Nets lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 ahead of Game 3 on Thursday in Milwaukee.
Brooklyn, which never trailed, led by as many as 49 points in the fourth quarter. The Nets led by double digits for the final 39:11.
In 33 minutes, Durant shot 12 of 18 from the field and posted his fourth 30-point game of the postseason. He also hit four 3-pointers, grabbed four rebounds and handed out six assists.
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Durant finished his latest productive game by going around Giannis Antetokounmpo for a reverse layup with 4.8 seconds left in the third quarter to give Brooklyn a 95-65 lead.
Kyrie Irving added 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting and had six assists for the Nets, who shot 52.1 percent and set a franchise postseason record with 21 3-pointers. It marked the fourth time in their first seven postseason games the Nets shot at least 50 percent from the floor.
Antetokounmpo led the third-seeded Bucks with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 8 of 15 from the floor and missed five of seven free-throw attempts. He is shooting 53.5 percent (23 of 43) from the foul line in the postseason.
Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton added 17 points but missed his first eight shots, finished 8 of 20 from the floor and committed five turnovers. Jrue Holiday was held to 13 points.
The Bucks shot 44 percent and misfired on 19 of 27 3-point tries after shooting 6 of 30 from behind the arc in Game 1.
Without Harden, the Nets dominated early and cruised to their fifth double-digit win of the postseason.
Durant scored 21 as the Nets led by as many as 27 points before halftime and took a 65-41 edge into the break. He made 7 of 10 shots prior to intermission, including a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the first quarter that put the Nets up 36-19 after the opening 12 minutes.