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Nets-Bucks Game 3 recap: Star of the game, key stat, more

The Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo drives past the Nets'

The Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo drives past the Nets' Bruce Brown during the first half of Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals on Thursday in Milwaukee. Credit: AP/Morry Gash

Key player: Khris Middleton. The Bucks All-Star had endured a brutal first two games in the series, but responded with a 35-point, 15-rebound performance. On this night he had 15 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter.

Nets' big gun: Kevin Durant. Who else? Not nearly as efficient as he had been in the first two games, Durant still came up huge when the Nets needed it most. Twice in the last three minutes Middleton put Milwaukee up with a tough bucket. And each time Durant answered back to tie the game. And when Middleton finally misfired, Durant didn’t - working to get off a three-pointer with 1:23 left that put the Nets up three.

Key statistic: 1 Giannis Antetokounmpo hit a three — just one. He is shooting just 4-for-32 from beyond the arc, but hascontinued shooting them as the Nets have dared him to fire away rather than penetrate. He missed his first six attempts Thursday night before finally connecting early in the fourth quarter.

Turning point: In the final minute of the game the Bucks did what they had not seemed capable of throughout the first two games - making someone other than Durant beat them. After Durant scored seven points in just under a minute he didn’t attempt a shot in the final minute - Joe Harris missing a jumper and then Bruce Brown missing twice near the rim - until he fired up a near-miss three at the buzzer.

Did you notice? P.J. Tucker and Durant share Texas Longhorn roots - a few years apart. And there may be a mutual respect, but you wouldn’t know from the confrontation in the third quarter when, with 4:21 left and Milwaukee up by three, Tucker argued a foul call and Durant said something - which set Tucker off and he went nose-to-nose with Durant, admittedly having to look up to get there. While teammates separated them with nothing close to a punch being thrown, team security rushed in and one collided hard with Tucker, which set Tucker off again, perhaps deservedly so.

Injury report: The Nets were without James Harden (right hamstring tightness) and Jeff Green (left plantar fascia strain). Steve Nash continues to leave it vague on a return, but with two days off again before Game Four worth keeping an eye on them.

New York Sports