Nets put 7-game streak on the line vs. nemesis Bucks

The Brooklyn Nets earned the first six wins of their winning streak by making plays down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

Their seventh victory was among the NBA’s most dominant offensive performances of the season, and the Nets are curious to see what the follow-up showing looks like Friday night when they host the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

During their seven-game winning streak, the Nets are averaging 125.1 points, shooting 55.9 percent and making 42.6 percent of their 3-point tries. Brooklyn also is averaging 28.1 assists to go along with 6.9 steals and 5.9 blocks since its last loss on Dec. 4 against the Boston Celtics.

Brooklyn’s numbers during the streak significantly increased Wednesday thanks to a flawless showing in a 143-113 rout of the visiting Golden State Warriors, who were without Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins.

After overcoming double-digit deficits in their previous two wins, the Nets led the Warriors by as many as 44 and scored 91 points by halftime — the third most in NBA history for a first half. Brooklyn set season highs for points along with field goal percentage (64.3 percent) and 3-pointers (21), and also handed out 42 assists, the most in the NBA this season.

“Every day’s game presents itself,” Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said. “You take care of business. We get an opportunity to play against Milwaukee on Friday. That gives us a good chance to see if we can have the same focus tonight against a very good team.”

The Nets put on their impressive showing without Kyrie Irving, who tweaked his right calf in Wednesday’s walkthrough. Without Irving, nine players reached double figures, with nobody playing more than 29 minutes.

Kevin Durant scored 21 of his 23 points by halftime while Edmond Sumner added 16 and Royce O’Neale contributed 14.

The Nets are 5-6 this season against teams with winning records and one of those games was a 110-99 loss at Milwaukee Oct. 26, when Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 34 of his 43 points in the second half.

“It’s a championship-caliber team that’s gonna give us a tough test,” Durant said. “And we’re looking forward to it.”

Antetokounmpo is coming off consecutive 40-point performances after sitting out Saturday’s loss against Utah with knee soreness. The Bucks are 3-2 when he gets at least 40 after taking a 114-106 loss at Cleveland on Wednesday.

Milwaukee has split its past six games since winning four straight (Dec. 3-9) and could not overcome a 15-point deficit after the opening quarter Wednesday.

Antetokounmpo finished with a season-high 45 points, but the Bucks struggled to find secondary scoring as Khris Middleton missed his third straight game with a sore right knee that will keep him out again Friday.

“He really put us on his back on a night when I think collectively, we need to be better,” Milwaukee guard Jrue Holiday said. “But his determination, his will, again, we were close. We had a chance. We had some big possessions where we make one or two more shots, maybe we can get over the hump or make it a one possession game or two possession game.”

Milwaukee is 20-5 in the past 25 regular-season meetings and Antetokounmpo has scored at least 30 in eight of his past nine regular-season games against the Nets.

–Field Level Media