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Greek Freak goes off for triple double, downs Nets in Milwaukee, 129-115

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Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

They played the best team in the NBA. They were missing six players. They played their third game in the last four days. They flew from Charlotte to Milwaukee and had to play a game less than 20 hours after the clock went to 0:00 against the Hornets.

We offer no excuses, but...

Anyway, the Nets (17-21) got dominated in a relatively lopsided affair against the Milwaukee Bucks (25-10), losing, 129-115, at the Fiserv Forum Saturday evening. They got blown out in the early stages of the game, but the reserves made it a single digit game after falling behind by 26 in the third quarter.

Worse, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson left the game in the second quarter and never returned. The Nets announced he has a right adductor strain. No timetable. RHJ strained his left adductor last August while participating in a Jeremy Lin-sponsored charity event in Shenzhen, China. It took two months to fully recover then.

Hollis-Jefferson suggested his injury isn’t as severe.

“Yeah,” he said. “I felt a little strange feeling on a crossover going baseline. It just felt weird to me so I just wanted to be cautious and talk to our training staff, see what was going on.”

He’ll undergo tests Sunday in New York, with a medical update likely to follow.

It’s Brooklyn’s second straight loss — both, as we noted, coming in less than 24 hours.

In fact, the Nets have played the most games and most back-to-backs of any team in the NBA so far this season. So. they rested D’Angelo Russell and Ed Davis in effort to give them an extra day before they play on Wednesday against the Pelicans.

The Bucks finished the first half on a 9-0 run and took a 19-point lead, allowing 71 points and 14 three-pointers. The Nets pulled Spencer Dinwiddie with 7:51 left in the third quarter and he never returned. He got the night off, too.

It looked like Brooklyn’s white towel.

Brook Lopez hit five three’s in the first half and a season-high seven on the night to go along with his 24 points. Brooklyn played a zone for a majority of the game and gave up a season-high 21 three’s on 51 attempts.

The game looked over after the Nets fell behind by 26 with 5:26 left in the third, but they answered with a 14-0 run and cut the deficit down to nine less than five minutes into the fourth.

On Shabazz Napier’s 30th point of the night, Brooklyn had cut the deficit down to seven, but Milwaukee answered with an effortless 8-0 run to go up 15 with three minutes to go. Napier finished with 32, tying his career high.

“[Antetokounmpo] made every shot,” Atkinson said. “We cut it to seven and they brought him back in the game. He made three or four shots in a row. That’s what a superstar does. When it’s crunch time, when it’s time to close a game out, he did it.”

And that was that.

A loss is a loss, but there were some positives for Brooklyn: Their bench. They out-scored Milwaukee’s bench 80-21 on the night, led by Napier who finished with a career-high tying 32 points and seven assists.

Kenneth Faried chipped in a double double off the bench with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while DeMarre Carroll dropped 18. Theo Pinson, coming off a 27-point, 10-rebound, 13-assist G League triple double, looked solid in 27 minutes, scoring six points, grabbing seven rebounds and handing out four assists. The Nets dished out 28 assists and hit 15 of 35 from deep, but their defense just couldn’t get it done.

For Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo did MVP-like things with a triple double: 31 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and three blocked shots. Khris Middleton finished with 29 points and seven rebounds and Malcolm Brogdan chipped in 18.

And that folks, is what happens when you play the NBA’s best. No matter what the circumstances may be.

CHASING THE PLAYOFFS

Last night’s loss set the Nets back, but not by much. They entered Saturday’s game 1.5 games out of the six and seven seeds and one game back of the eighth seed. After the loss, the Nets situation is they’re two games out of six and seven and a game and a half out of eight.

Here are some games to watch:

Saturday: Nuggets-Suns (Pick implications).

Sunday: Pistons-Magic, Heat-Timberwolves.

CHASING THE LOTTERY

As for the Draft, the loss put the Nets in ninth place, with a 4.5 percent chance of the overall No. 1 and a 20.3 percent chance of a top four pick. The Nets also currently have the 28th (Denver) and 32nd (New York) picks.

ANOTHER (STAR) BODY FOR JARRETT ALLEN

Add Giannis to the list of All-Stars, joining Blake Griffin (2x) and LeBron James.

BROOK LOPEZ... A NET FOREVER

Brooklyn’s all-time leading scorer and fan-favorite, Brook Lopez, was on the opposing team for Saturday’s battle. Lopez has made a living from three this season *ahem* and has become an integral part of Mike Budenholzer’s offense.

I caught up with him a month back and asked if he would have started taking three’s without Kenny Atkinson:

And then, the nostalgia...

For another perspective, turn to BrewHoop, our Bucks sister site on SB Nation.

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Happy New Year to everybody from NetsDaily. We hope the trend continues upwards in 2019. It’ll start against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday at 7:30pm.