MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 36 points and the Milwaukee Bucks used a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Brooklyn Nets for the second time in three days, winning 124-118 on Tuesday night.
Milwaukee blew a 10-point lead in the second half and trailed 103-97 with 10 minutes left, but it responded with an 18-1 run to clinch a fifth straight playoff appearance.
Brooklyn cut the margin to four with 1:02 left, but Antetokounmpo sank a pair of free throws and Jrue Holiday made a steal in the final minute to seal the victory.
Kyrie Irving scored 38 points for the Nets, and Kevin Durant had 32.
Khris Middleton and Holiday each had 23 points for Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo also grabbed 12 rebounds, and Donte DiVincenzo finished with 10 points and 15 boards.
The Bucks' fourth-quarter comeback followed their 117-114 Sunday afternoon victory over the Nets, also in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo scored 49 points in that one as the Bucks withstood Durant’s 42-point performance.
The Nets lost their third straight for the second time this season. Brooklyn also lost three in a row from Feb. 5-9, but followed that up by reeling off eight consecutive victories for its longest winning streak of the season.
Brooklyn (43-23) fell 1½ games behind Philadelphia (44-21) in the race for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Milwaukee (41-24) is third in the East, three behind Philadelphia and 1½ behind Brooklyn.
The Bucks own a 5-1 combined record against Brooklyn and Philadelphia. The Bucks went 4-0 against those teams over the last two weeks, though all four of those games were in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee swept its three regular-season games with Philadelphia, which wasn't at full strength for any of those matchups. During this two-game miniseries with Milwaukee, the Nets had Durant and Irving in the lineup but were missing James Harden, who hasn’t played since April 5 due to a right hamstring strain.
Durant, Harden and Irving have played together for the Nets in just seven games this season.
Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie, who suffered a partial tear of his right anterior cruciate ligament in late December, posted a video of his rehab work on Instagram while adding the note, “I think it’s been 17 weeks. What’s the fastest anybody ever returned to Bball? Lol.” Asked about the post, Nets coach Steve Nash said it wasn’t realistic to believe Dinwiddie could return in time to contribute in the playoffs. “We haven’t seen him since the turn of the year almost,” Nash said. “It’s very difficult to one, expose him to full NBA playoff basketball after the type of injury he’s had, so we want to look out for his long-term health first and foremost, and second of all, adapting back to the team environment. All those things together make it seem probably very unlikely, but who knows? Stranger things have happened.”
Bucks: Jim Paschke, who has called over 2,000 Bucks games as the team's play-by-play television broadcaster over the last 35 seasons, announced he will retire at the end of the season. Paschke's overall broadcasting career has lasted 48 years. ... Backup point guard Jeff Teague missed the game due to an abdominal strain, but reserve forward Bobby Portis was back in action after sitting out Sunday's contest with a stomach ailment.
Nets: At Dallas on Thursday to continue a five-game trip. The Nets lost to the Mavericks 115-98 in Brooklyn on Feb. 27
Bucks: Host Washington on Wednesday as they attempt to sweep the regular-season series. The Bucks won at Washington 125-119 on March 13 and 133-122 on March 15, with Antetokounmpo recording a triple-double in both games.
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