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Nets storm back but fall short against Milwaukee, 129-125

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Brooklyn Nets Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The bad: The Nets will enter the All-Star break on a 14-game losing streak and 16-game losing streak at home. They’re also 2-30 in the last 32 games.

The good: Jeremy Lin will return once the team gets back…

It was a week filled with trips down memory lane, starting on Monday when the Nets played Vince Carter’s Memphis Grizzlies and then on Wednesday when they played Jason Kidd’s young Milwaukee Bucks (25-30). They were the latest team to defeat the Nets (9-47) with a final score of, 129-125, in Brooklyn.

Brook Lopez did all he could to end the streak with a season-high 36 points, a career-high EIGHT blocks (!) and six 3-pointers, the first time that’s been done in NBA history. Supposedly the Nets can’t get two first-rounders for this guy.

Unfortunately for Brooklyn, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks were simply too much. The Greek Freak, with plenty of fans on hand, finished with 33 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

It was just a two-point game at half, but Milwaukee answered with a 33-point third quarter and went up by 13 entering the fourth. The Nets made their typical fourth quarter comeback, but they weren’t able to get the stops they needed down the stretch.

They outscored the Bucks 43-34 in the fourth quarter. You have to give it to the rebuilding Nets for fighting until the very end… tonight and all season. It’s just too bad they only have nine wins to show for it.

And so, the historically bad numbers continue…

The Nets’ last home win was on December 26 when they defeated the Charlotte Hornets on a crazy buzzer beater. Since then, they’ve lost 16 straight at home – tied for the NBA’s fourth-worst all-time home losing streak.

They’ve passed the Providence Steamrollers and tied the Charlotte Bobcats’ home streak in 2012. They’re only three home losses away from tying the Mavericks’ infamous record 19 straight.

And yes, they’re still winless at home in 2017.

Neither team was interested in playing defense in the first half. I mean, the Nets haven’t played defense all season, but it was especially bad on Wednesday. After scoring 39 points on 71 percent shooting in the first, the Bucks were nearly unstoppable thanks to 17 points from All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Nets’ only answer to the Greek Freak and the offensive attack was Brook Lopez on the other end. Lopez dropped 22 points and wiped out a 12-point deficit, giving the Nets some hope in the second half. They ended the half on a 23-11 run.

Halftime score: Bucks 62, Nets 60.

Milwaukee started the second half on a 9-2 run and never looked back. They outscored the Nets 33-22 and extended their two-point halftime lead to 15 (95-82) entering the fourth quarter. The Nets turned the ball over nine times in the third compared to just six total in the first half. There was only so much Brook Lopez could do.

Another game of catch up.

Behind an 11-point burst from Joe Harris, the Nets cut the deficit down to five with 3:38 remaining. Soon thereafter, Spencer Dinwiddie and Brook Lopez ran a high pick and roll. Two Bucks defenders trapped Dinwiddie and he kicked it to a wide-open Brook Lopez from beyond the perimeter, who nailed his sixth 3-pointer of the night.

Suddenly, the Nets erased the 13-point deficit and trailed by only two.

Then came Spencer Dinwiddie, who became the anchor of the comeback. He scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and dished out eight assists to go along with five rebounds and ZERO turnovers. It was his best game in the pros.

"I definitely feel like I'm getting more comfortable. Running more pick-and-roll helps,” said Dinwiddie post-game.

The Nets outscored the Bucks 43-34 in the fourth.

The huge fourth quarter wasn’t enough. The Nets couldn’t get stops late in the game when they needed them most.

Kidd’s Bucks walked in and out of the lane and got whatever they wanted. If I recall correctly, when Kidd was coaching in Brooklyn he said, “You can't teach length,” when asked about Sean Livingston.

That vision has been the M.O. of the Bucks and that's what happened all night. Dominating throughout, they closed the night with six consecutive successful possessions.

Defense took a step backward from the past few games.

Trevor Booker instilled his usual energy off the bench and scored 18 points, while Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Harris chipped in 14. The Nets dished out an impressive 30 assists on 46 of their made field goals (52.3 percent).

“I wanted to go out on the All-Star break in the right mindset,” Brook Lopez said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win as a team, but I thought we played very well together and we picked it up when we needed to. They made some runs but we definitely responded and we gave ourselves a shot right to the very end and there’s something to be said for that.”

Lopez has a message for Nets fans out there:

“I just wanna thank the fans for all their continued support. Obviously it hasn’t been the best season, but we’re out there fighting and we’re fighting for them. We want to see our team get better and improve and I think we’re doing that game in and game out. The results haven’t really been there in the standings but we’re going to break through. I think we truly have been improving every game, we just need the fans to continue to support us the way they are and we’re going to grow together as a franchise.”

Last year on the Circus Trip

Tonight was the final game before the Nets’ infamous Circus Road Trip. The Nets have been going on these circus road-trips since they first moved to Brooklyn, but since Ringling Brothers shows are coming to an end, the yearly trip will no longer burden the team. This year, they’ll play eight straight on the road over a 15-day span. That’s NINE flights, 45 bus rides and a total of 8,066 air miles. I remind you that they’re 2-23 on the road.

Next up: the All-Star break and Trade Deadline.