Nets suffer another third-quarter collapse
End fruitless road trip with 110-99 loss in Milwaukee
One good half isn’t cutting it for the struggling Brooklyn Nets.
And head coach Steve Nash couldn’t bear to watch it Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
Even if he wasn’t allowed to.
Nash was ejected during Brooklyn’s second consecutive third-quarter collapse as the Nets suffered a 110-99 loss to Giannis Antetokounmpko and the Bucks in front of 17,341 fans at Fiserv Forum.
After getting outscored 45-28 in the third quarter during Monday night’s loss at Memphis, the Nets (1-3) found themselves up by 12 and cruising against the Bucks (3-0) at halftime.
But Nash took exception to what he thought should have been an offensive foul on Antetokounmpko and drew his first technical.
Despite the efforts of assistant coach Jacque Vaughn to hold him back, Nash continued yelling and got another tech, resulting in his first ejection ever with the Nets, who were outscored 67-44 over the last 24 minutes.
The mild-mannered Canadian was only ejected twice during his entire Hall of Fame career as a player.
“You just want to go out there and fight for your guys and that’s what he did tonight,” Nets superstar Kevin Durant said in defense of the coach he reportedly tried to have fired this past summer.
Following Nash’s departure, the Nets wound up getting outscored 35-21 following intermission and the Bucks didn’t let up much in the fourth, remaining unbeaten and handing Brooklyn its second straight road defeat.
“I was just standing up for the guys. … I was upset and that’s it,” said Nash at the postgame press conference. “What happened, happened.”
Despite the meltdown in the third, the Nets found themselves tied entering the fourth. But Antetokounmpko, who finished with 43 points and 14 rebounds, took over as the Bucks ran away with it over the final 12 minutes.
“It’s one of those things that’s a lot easier to dissect when we watch film,” Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris said of Brooklyn’s poor second half. “We start games a little slow and start halves a little slow.”
They’d better not do so Thursday, when Dallas visits the Barclays Center in the opener of a four-game homestand for our borough’s NBA franchise.
“Dallas doesn’t care that we are in a back-to-back,” Harris noted. “We just have to come out with the right energy (Thursday).”
Kyrie Irving scored 27 points and Royce O’Neale added 12, but none of the rest of the Nets managed to reach double figures in scoring.
Ben Simmons, whom the Nets are relying on to be their third option after he sat out all of last season with mental-health concerns and a herniated disk, had four points on 2-of-7 shooting and didn’t score the entire second half.
Simmons hasn’t scored more than he did Wednesday in any of Brooklyn’s first four games and the Nets were already without Markieff Morris (personal reasons) and Seth Curry (ankle) against the Bucks.
“We just gotta support him. We prepare for games and it’s going to take time,” Nash said of Simmons.
Nash went a long way toward supporting his players from the bench in Milwaukee. They have to begin doing the same for him on the hardwood Thursday in Downtown Brooklyn.
NOTHING BUT NET: After hosting the Mavericks, the Nets will welcome Indiana to Brooklyn for consecutive games on Saturday and Monday before taking on Chicago next Tuesday. … Nash indicated that Curry would miss Thursday’s game vs. Dallas, but that he would see practice time with the team’s G-League affiliate on Long Island. The veteran sharpshooter could return Saturday vs. Indiana.
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