Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant vented his frustration over perceived dirty play by the Milwaukee Bucks in Thursday's defeat but begrudgingly acknowledged they did an effective job on him.

Durant missed a three-point shot on the buzzer that would have given his Nets the win, but they ultimately went down 120-119 in overtime.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 44 points (14-of-21 shooting) for the Bucks to go with 14 rebounds and six assists, while Jrue Holiday finished with a game-high six steals.

The hotly contested matchup between two teams that played out a seven-game series in last year's playoffs featured a contentious moment late in overtime as Durant was fouled on a three-point attempt by Wesley Matthews, which was reviewed as a potential flagrant.

Speaking to post-game media, Durant made a point of it being the second time in as many games that he feels he was targeted with a dangerous foul.

"We all thought that was reckless, right?" Durant asked the media in attendance.

"I think technically, I have to be in the air and come down on his foot, and that's the flagrant… but as soon as I hit the floor, here he comes running at my leg.

"It wasn't a [basketball play] – I thought it was supposed to be a flagrant. But I didn't make the correct play to get a flagrant, I was supposed to still be in the air while he's underneath me.

"I'm hurting. That's two games in a row where players have walked up underneath me while I'm trying to make a basketball play, so my ankle hurts."

After discussion moved to the game itself, Durant got frustrated when a reporter asked if the reason the Nets lost this game had anything to do with chemistry, a subject often brought up in reference to Durant's close friend Kyrie Irving.

"It was just basketball mistakes – we're not going to play a perfect basketball game," he said.

"It always sucks when you lose, and you tend to think back on the mistakes that you made, but we try to play mistake-free basketball – everyone in this league does.

"Giannis [Antetokounmpo] had eight turnovers, Jrue [Holiday] had six. They had 14 turnovers between their two best players – I'm sure they don't want that either, but that's just the game.

"They hit one more shot than we did. I don't think it's because of a lack of chemistry, or we didn't play hard. It's just one of those games that didn't fall our way at the end."

Durant then paid some respect to the reigning champions and gave some details about the way the Bucks defended against him.

"They did a good job – they know [who I am], they know what it is," he said.

"If I get the ball out top, I'm seeing the whole team looking at me. Kyrie got the same treatment.

"Brook Lopez, he's played against me in the playoffs before. This team knows how to prepare for me.

"If I get a drive, if I get a lane, I'm hearing guys coming over to help, and they're calling for more help. It's only going to make me better as a player to see those looks.

"We shot the ball pretty well [as a team] – I think that's because we were making the right plays."

When asked if his sore ankle could force him to miss any games, Durant said no chance.

"No, I'm good," he said. "It's a little sore, you know how it goes."

Giannis Antetokounmpo saved some veiled censure for James Harden, as he surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the Milwaukee Bucks' all-time leading scorer on Thursday.

With 44 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks to a big 120-119 overtime win against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets.

Drilling a step-back three to tie the game at the end of regulation, the 27-year-old broke the Bucks franchise record in the process.

Responding to prior criticism from James Harden that he only "runs and dunks" as a consequence of his height and mobility, the Greek forward was evidently pleased to have broken the record with elite skill on the step-back triple.

"I did not know about it, but it's good," he said post-game. "It's good because I'm changing the narrative. You know, I don't want to be the guy that only dunks and runs. I can make a three," Antetokounmpo said.

For the two-time MVP, his priorities remain based in team success.

"It doesn't really matter, because at the end of the day, if you don't have a successful season and if you don't try to keep getting better, and staying humble, and staying hungry to play all the way until May and June, nobody is going to remember this," Antetokounmpo added.

"So I just want to stay humble, I want us to stay humble. I feel like the more humble I get, and the more hungry I stay, the more things I can accomplish, the more art I can create... I just gotta keep staying humble, make my teammates great, win games, and good things like tonight are going to happen."

After a hard-fought seven-game series in last year's NBA playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets added another chapter to their recent rivalry with an overtime thriller.

The Bucks ended up coming out on top 120-119 thanks to a mammoth performance from two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, finishing with 44 points on 14-of-21 shooting to go with 14 rebounds and six assists.

It was not just the raw numbers for Antetokounmpo, but the situations where he delivered, hitting a crucial step-back three to tie the game at 110-110 with less than 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

Down 118-119 with three seconds left in overtime, Antetokounmpo was fouled, and connected on both free throws to give the Bucks the lead and the win.

Jrue Holiday was crucial for the reigning champions, claiming six steals to go with his 19 points (six-of-18 shooting), eight rebounds and four assists.

Kevin Durant was terrific for the Nets, scoring 26 points on 10-of-21 from the field (three-of-six from long range) and also dishing out 11 assists, while Kyrie Irving chipped in with 25 points (nine-of-22 from the field) with five assists.


DeRozan's 50-piece leads comeback

The Chicago Bulls came back from an 11-point deficit with 4:58 remaining in regulation to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 135-130 in overtime.

After DeMar DeRozan hit three free throws in the final five seconds to tie the game and force overtime, the Clippers were forced to contest the extra period without star Paul George, who had hit his minutes restriction as he returns from a long-term elbow injury.

DeRozan went on to score 50 points on 17-of-26 shooting, while highly-regarded second-year forward Patrick Williams caught the eye coming off the bench, scoring 10 points without missing a shot while adding 12 rebounds and two blocks.

Cunningham shows class

Number one pick from this year's rookie class, Cade Cunningham, showed why he is viewed as a future star in this league as he led his Detroit Pistons to a 102-94 upset against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Cunningham was Detroit's best player, finishing with 27 points (12-of-20 shooting) to go with six assists and four steals and the Pistons out-scored the 76ers 29-15 in the final frame.

Joel Embiid was not to blame for the 76ers struggles, scoring 37 points on 11-of-19 shooting with 15 rebounds.

Kevin Durant was satisfied with his night's work after recording 41 points as the Brooklyn Nets eventually overcame a spirited Detroit Pistons on Tuesday at Barclays Center.

The Nets moved to 40-36 following the win, and sit in eight place in the Eastern Conference, while the Pistons have the joint-worst record in the east (20-56, along with the Orlando Magic).

Kyrie Irving added 24 in only his second home appearance of the season following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on unvaccinated athletes in New York.

Durant was the star of the show, though, also managing 11 rebounds and five assists, while sinking four of six attempts from beyond the arc.

"I want to get better shots sometimes, but like a couple of them are like, 'I'm hot, let me risk it,'" Durant said after the win.

"I was just trying to get the best shots that I can. Sometimes it might be over a guy in the lane, but I feel like that’s open and I have to keep knocking them down."

The Nets had been 12 points behind at one point, but were able to turn things around to eventually secure victory, and Durant was quick to praise Detroit despite their undesirable record. 

"I know their record isn’t good, but they still have pros over there," he added. "They still made shots early and gained confidence as a team. This was a good test for us."

Andre Drummond put up 14 points and 13 rebounds, and expressed his belief that Brooklyn will need to be better against stronger opponents, with the playoffs not far away and the Nets hoping to sneak in.

"We can't hang our hat on the second half, we have to play a complete game," Drummond said.

"It's never going to be easy to make that turn against great teams. Not that the Pistons aren't a great team. They played a great game, but we just turned it up in the second half."

Giannis Antetokounmpo came up with a game-winning block on Joel Embiid after scoring 40 points in the Milwaukee Bucks' crucial 118-116 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.

Antetokounmpo rose to block Embiid's attempt to level the scores with less than two seconds left on the clock, with head coach Mike Budenholzer labelling it "special".

The Greek superstar finished with 40 points on 66 per cent shooting with 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.

The Bucks win is significant in the race for Eastern Conference seeds, moving Milwaukee (47-28) into second behind the Miami Heat (48-28), while the 76ers (46-29) slip to fourth.

Khris Middleton added 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists and Jrue Holiday contributed 18 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.

Embiid finished with 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, while James Harden had 32 points making four-of-10 from beyond the arc, with five rebounds and nine assists.

 

George returns in Clippers comeback win

Paul George marked his first game since December 22 with 34 points including six three-pointers as the Los Angeles Clippers fought back from 25 points down to win 121-115 over the Utah Jazz who have lost five in a row. The Clippers finished the game on a 34-12 run.

Kevin Durant scored 41 points with 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks while Kyrie Irving managed 24 points in his second home appearance as the Brooklyn Nets won 130-123 over the Detroit Pistons.

The Chicago Bulls found some form after winning only four of their past 15 games with an important 107-94 win over the Washington Wizards led by DeMar DeRozan with 32 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

 

Lakers slide continues

The Los Angeles Lakers' struggles continued with a heavy 128-110 loss to the Dallas Mavericks as Luka Doncic recorded a triple-double with 34 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. The Mavs led by as much as 37 points. The Lakers, who were without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, are 31-44 and slip to 11th out of the west's play-in spots.

Erik Spoelstra returned to the Miami Heat ahead of their game against the Sacramento Kings on Monday. 

Head coach Spoelstra missed Saturday's 110-95 loss to the Brooklyn Nets for personal reasons, with assistant coach Chris Quinn filling in. 

However, Miami confirmed that the 60-year-old was back with the team for the meeting with the Kings at FTX Arena. 

Ahead of Monday's game, the Heat (47-28) had the second-best record in the Eastern Conference but sat below the Boston Celtics. The Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers were half a game back in a tight top four. 

Kyrie Irving believes his return to home games for the Brooklyn Nets transcends his status as a basketball player.

The unvaccinated Irving made his season debut in January, when a COVID-19 outbreak forced the Nets to field him on a part-time basis, having initially chosen not to.

New York City vaccine mandates still barred the 30-year-old from playing the Barclays Center, but last week's easing of those mandates allowed for a return to action on his home floor.

Following the 119-110 loss to the Charlotte Hornets, Irving wanted to bring matters into perspective.

"I was just trying to ground myself as much as possible today and just prepare for the warm reception from a lot of supporters of the organisation, of me, just the journey thus far," he said post-game.

"So I don't take it for granted what happened tonight, it was historic. I'm grateful I got a chance to be out there with my brothers and just leave it all out there."

Irving received a hearty reception from the home crowd as he was introduced in the starting lineup, in what was the Nets' second game of a back-to-back.

The former All-Star struggled to find rhythm despite his 16 points and 11 assists, going six-of-22 from the field and making one out of nine attempts from the perimeter.

But Irving spoke afterwards about how his stance against the vaccine meant his return was not simply about him or the game of basketball.

"Tonight my presence out there was just bigger than the basketball game," Irving said. "I was just representing a lot of individuals that are out there in a similar situation as me.

"And now that I can play, I think we should be opened up for everybody.

"I made it very clear it was never just about me. I think for my legacy, that's to be written by all those that I impact and all those that impact me, and it's far bigger than just a basketball game.

"But when I'm in this locker room, I get a chance to perform with a bunch of guys that are selfless and are sacrificing just as much as I am. It makes it worthwhile."

The Miami Heat's slide continued on Saturday, with a disappointing 110-95 home defeat against the Brooklyn Nets making it four losses on the trot.

Miami entered the week multiple games clear of the chasing pack, but after the loss against the Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers usurped the Heat as the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The race for home-court advantage throughout the Eastern playoffs is far from over, as the top four teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics, are only separated by a half-game.

Things were ugly early for the Heat, with its once-feared defence giving up 40 points in just the second quarter to hand the Nets a 67-46 half-time lead, which was never threatened.

Kevin Durant led a balanced offensive performance from the Nets, finishing with a team-high 23 points on seven-of-14 shooting, while seven of his teammates scored at least eight points each.

The win was Brooklyn's seventh from their past nine games, with Kyrie Irving set to make his home debut the next time out against the Charlotte Hornets.

No Morant, no problem

The Memphis Grizzlies passed another real test when the Milwaukee Bucks came to town, sending the reigning champions home with their tails between their legs after a 127-102 result.

In one of the more unlikely storylines of this season, the Grizzlies are now 17-2 in games where their best player and MVP candidate Ja Morant has not played.

Emerging franchise centrepiece Desmond Bane rose to the occasion, scoring 20 points on nine-of-19 shooting to go with five assists, while Defensive Player of the Year candidate Jaren Jackson Jr blocked two shots and snatched one steal to go with his 16 points and six rebounds.

Kings rookie continues to break out, Bulls finally beat a good team

With De'Aaron Fox missing yet again, Sacramento Kings rookie Davion Mitchell had his third consecutive game with at least 22 points and seven assists in his side's 114-110 overtime win against the Orlando Magic.

Mitchell's line of 22 points (10-of-23 from the field) with seven rebounds and nine assists comes after games of 25 points and seven assists against the Indiana Pacers, and 28 points with nine assists against the Phoenix Suns.

Meanwhile, after entering the game with a sputtering record of 3-10 in their past 13 games, the Chicago Bulls collected a much-needed 98-94 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Since February 12, Chicago have only beaten two teams who currently occupy playoff spots – the Cavaliers, and the Toronto Raptors.

Kevin Durant said his Brooklyn Nets were expecting a tough, physical performance from the Miami Heat on Saturday night, but they had all the answers in the 110-95 win.

Brooklyn used a 40-point second quarter to open up a 67-46 half-time lead, extending the margin to 37 points when Seth Curry's three-pointer made it 94-57 with 4:02 to play in the third period.

Durant scored a team-high 23 points on seven-of-14 shooting, while seven of his teammates scored at least eight points each in one of the Nets' most balanced offensive performances of the season.

Speaking at a post-game news conference, Durant said the key to playing well in Miami is being prepared to bring the physicality.

"[Miami] has been struggling lately – they'd lost their last three – so we assumed they'd come out with a lot of firepower," he said.

"They did – we were down 15-7 early – but we weathered the storm. We took their punch and were able to keep going. 

"[Miami] is a physical basketball team, so if you match their physicality you can make it an even game, and we have a lot of shot-makers on our team.

"They normally blitz a lot of teams [in Miami] by just being more physical, and getting out in transition and knocking down threes, but they had to take the ball out of the basket a lot and play against a set defense."

Kevin Durant said his Brooklyn Nets were expecting a tough, physical performance from the Miami Heat on Saturday night, but they had all the answers in the 110-95 win.

Brooklyn used a 40-point second quarter to open up a 67-46 half-time lead, extending the margin to 37 points when Seth Curry's three-pointer made it 94-57 with 4:02 to play in the third period.

Durant scored a team-high 23 points on seven-of-14 shooting, while seven of his teammates scored at least eight points each in one of the Nets' most balanced offensive performances of the season.

Speaking at a post-game news conderence, Durant said the key to playing well in Miami is being prepared to bring the physicality.

"[Miami] has been struggling lately – they'd lost their last three – so we assumed they'd come out with a lot of firepower," he said.

"They did – we were down 15-7 early – but we weathered the storm. We took their punch and were able to keep going. 

"[Miami] is a physical basketball team, so if you match their physicality you can make it an even game, and we have a lot of shot-makers on our team.

"They normally blitz a lot of teams [in Miami] by just being more physical, and getting out in transition and knocking down threes, but they had to take the ball out of the basket a lot and play against a set defense."

The Miami Heat's slide continued on Saturday night, with a disappointing 110-95 home defeat against the Brooklyn Nets making it four losses on the trot.

Miami entered the week multiple games clear of the chasing pack, but after the loss against the Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers usurped the Heat as the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

The race for home-court advantage throughout the Eastern playoffs is far from over, as the top four teams, including the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics, are only separated by a half-game.

Things were ugly early for the Heat, with its once-feared defence giving up 40 points in just the second quarter to hand the Nets a 67-46 half-time lead, which was never threatened.

Kevin Durant led a balanced offensive performance from the Nets, finishing with a team-high 23 points on seven-of-14 shooting, while seven of his teammates scored at least eight points each.

The win was Brooklyn's seventh from their past nine games, with Kyrie Irving set to make his home debut the next time out against the Charlotte Hornets.

No Morant, no problem

The Memphis Grizzlies passed another real test when the Milwaukee Bucks came to town, sending the reigning champions home with their tails between their legs after a 127-102 result.

In one of the more unlikely storylines of this season, the Grizzlies are now 17-2 in games where their best player and MVP candidate Ja Morant has not played.

Emerging franchise centrepiece Desmond Bane rose to the occasion, scoring 20 points on nine-of-19 shooting to go with five assists, while Defensive Player of the Year candidate Jaren Jackson Jr blocked two shots and snatched one steal to go with his 16 points and six rebounds.

Kings rookie continues to break out, Bulls finally beat a good team

With De'Aaron Fox missing yet again, Sacramento Kings rookie Davion Mitchell had his third consecutive game with at least 22 points and seven assists in his side's 114-110 overtime win against the Orlando Magic.

Mitchell's line of 22 points (10-of-23 from the field) with seven rebounds and nine assists comes after games of 25 points and seven assists against the Indiana Pacers, and 28 points with nine assists against the Phoenix Suns.

Meanwhile, after entering the game with a sputtering record of 3-10 in their past 13 games, the Chicago Bulls collected a much-needed 98-94 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Since February 12, Chicago have only beaten two teams who currently occupy playoff spots – the Cavaliers, and the Toronto Raptors.

The Miami Heat were without coach Erik Spoelstra for their game with the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. 

Miami confirmed prior to tip-off that Spoelstra would not be in attendance at FTX Arena due to personal reasons. 

Assistant coach Chris Quinn was handed the reins of the Heat, who sat top of the Eastern Conference with eight games to play. 

Miami have lost their past three games, opening the door for the Philadelphia 76ers to displace them as the top seed in the closing stretch of the regular season. 

The Nets sat eighth in the East and looked set to be heading for the play-in tournament. 

Kevin Durant says it is an "exciting time" for Brooklyn Nets fans as Kyrie Irving prepares to make a long-awaited appearance at Barclays Center on Sunday.

Irving has not been able to play at home this season after he opted against taking a coronavirus vaccine.

The seven-time NBA All-Star will be back in action at Barclays Center against the Charlotte Hornets this weekend, though, after New York City Mayor Eric Adams lifted the mandate for unvaccinated athletes and performers.

Durant welcomed that decision and says having Irving available for all games has given Brooklyn a major lift.

The forward said on Friday: "It's a long time coming. It's an exciting time for Brooklyn Nets fans and New York fans to see one of our own back on the floor at home.

"It means a lot to our team, happy to have him back, and look forward to finishing the season strong. I'm glad this is all behind us."

The Nets (38-35) are eighth in the Eastern Conference in a season that has not gone to plan.

But Durant has no interest in dwelling on the past as they look to build momentum with Irving set for a happy homecoming.

"There's no crying over spilled milk. It is what it is," Durant said. "But I'm not naive to the fact that the Mets and the Yankees, they have a lot of power in our city.

"I'm sure once they all helped and had conversations with whoever they needed to talk to, it was able to push it over the top.

"So, sports is a huge factor in a lot of these major cities, and I'm glad we can get things done for everybody to move forward. I know New York City fans are excited about it."

Kyrie Irving has been cleared to play home games for the Brooklyn Nets after changes to New York's vaccine mandate were officially announced on Thursday.

It means Irving will be eligible to take to the court when the Nets host the Charlotte Hornets at Barclays Center on Sunday.

New York City mayor Eric Adams recently removed restrictions requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter establishments including bars, restaurants and sports arenas, but the mandate for private sector employees remained in place.

As a result, Irving – who is unvaccinated – was only able to attend home games as a spectator.

However, at a media conference at Citi Field on Thursday, Adams confirmed the mandate for athletes and performers had been lifted.

"This is about putting New York athletes on a level playing field," he said. "We were treating our performers differently because they live and play in New York City."

Adams did reiterate his previous stance that athletes, including Irving, should reconsider their stance on vaccination.

"Kyrie, you should get vaccinated," he said. "This does not change my message that everyone should get vaccinated."

Irving, who has played just 20 games this season, scored 43 points in Brooklyn's 132-120 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving delivered big performances, but the Memphis Grizzlies were unstoppable in the first half on the way to a 132-120 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Irving finished with 43 points (15-of-27 shooting, six-of-11 from three) and eight assists, while Durant posted figures of 35 points (12-of-28 shooting, 10-of-10 from the free-throw line) with 11 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and two steals.

But the Grizzlies would not be denied in front of their home fans, clicking on all cylinders early to jump out to a 76-62 half-time lead.

It was yet another stunning showing without MVP candidate Ja Morant who missed again through injury, with seven Grizzlies scoring double figures to pick up the slack.

Desmond Bane (eight-of-17 shooting) and De'Anthony Melton (eight-of-13 shooting) led the way with 23 points each, while Jaren Jackson Jr swatted away four shots as he continued his charge for Defensive Player of the Year.

With the win, the Grizzlies moved to 50-23 for the year, and an incredible 15-2 in games Morant has missed.

 

Warriors 'punk' the Heat

A day after Draymond Green said his Golden State Warriors were being "punked" in recent losses, they responded in style, beating the Miami Heat 118-104 without Green and injured star Stephen Curry.

In a game where Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler had to be physically separated from coach Erik Spoelstra during a time-out, the Miami defence simply could not get stops in the second half as tempers flared.

Jordan Poole shone yet again for the Warriors, scoring 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting, going three-of-seven from long range, while rookie Jonathan Kuminga, All-Star Andrew Wiggins and bench player Damion Lee chipped in with 22 points each.


Ayton and the Suns shine in Minnesota, Davion dominates

A 42-point fourth quarter capped off a terrific 125-116 comeback win for the Phoenix Suns on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Trailing 64-51 at the halfway stage and by five at three-quarter time, the Suns got 11 points from centre Deandre Ayton down the stretch to cap off a big 35-point (15-of-24 shooting), 14-rebound performance.

Devin Booker controlled the contest for the Suns, scoring 28 points on only 15 field goal attempts, going 13-of-16 from the free throw line while also dishing out seven assists.

Meanwhile, rookie top-10 pick Davion Mitchell starred in the Sacramento Kings' 110-109 away win against the Indiana Pacers, scoring 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting and collecting seven assists in arguably his best game as a professional.

Joel Embiid scored 30 points and had 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks for the Philadelphia 76ers in their 126-121 win over a Los Angeles Lakers side who were without LeBron James.

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