They wanted it badly enough that Kevin Durant mentioned it on his Instagram account Monday.
They wanted it badly enough that Kyrie Irving scored 38 points and Durant added 32, marking just the sixth time in Nets history that two Nets players have scored 30 or more in the same game.
Unfortunately, wanting and getting, as most of the world can tell you, are often two different things. And the Nets didn’t get buckets when they needed them most and were defeated, 124-118, by the Milwaukee Bucks Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum.
The loss came just two days after the Nets had lost a game to the Bucks on a last-second miss by Durant. Two days earlier, the Nets lost to Portland at Barclays Center.
That means for just the second time this season, the Nets have lost three games in a row. They previously lost three games in early February.
The loss could end up being a costly one as it was the final matchup between the two teams this season, giving the Bucks a 2-1 edge in the series and the tiebreaker should they finish with the same record. With six games left to play in the regular season, the Nets have fallen 1 ½ games behind the first-place 76ers. The Bucks are in third place, 1 ½ games behind the Nets.
"I’m definitely disappointed that we were outworked," Blake Griffin said. " . . . We have to want it more and be the more physical team on the floor."
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Buck with 36 points and 12 rebounds. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday each added 23 points.
The Bucks dominated on the inside with advantages of 44-30 scoring in the paint, 62-50 rebounding and 20-9 on second-chance points.
The Nets lost control of the game when the Bucks went on an 18-1 run midway through the fourth quarter. Nets coach Steve Nash did not call a timeout during the 18-1 run. Blake Griffin doesn't think it would have helped.
"We got outworked," What are you going to do," Griffin said. "Call a timeout and say we need to work harder?
"They got a nice groove going in the fourth, made shots and made plays," Durant said. "You have to give them credit."
Nash took a glass is half-full attitude about the loss, noting that the core players on the Bucks have been together for years while the Nets are still figuring each out.
"Yeah, we had a poor stretch," Nash said. "Our team, our gap for our team is that we don’t have a common history. We’re brand new, everything’s new. We’ve changed teams more or less a number of times, so we’ve got a gap to make up as far as our understanding of one another.
"And while we make up that gap, we’ve got to be more physical, we’ve got to win 50-50 balls, and we’ve got to do the dirty work, because we have to give ourselves some sort of buffer while we figure each other out, while we get more familiar with our schemes and our sets, and give us give ourself that little cushion, where maybe it’s not as smooth, it’s not as seamless at all times, but we’re still able to scrap and claw and stay in the games."
The two games in three days in Milwaukee was billed as a mini-series and a possible preview of a later playoff matchup between two of the best teams in the East.
"I’m definitely disappointed that we were outworked," Griffin said. "We have to want it more and be the more physical team on the floor."
"Yeah, I do think it’s much more playoff like to play a team twice in a row," Nash said before Tuesday’s game. You get an opportunity to adjust to their adjustments, to have a little bit of a chess match."
Of course, that chess match will change as the Nets have been missing one of their most important pieces, James Harden, for both games.