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Bucks hand Nets 3rd straight loss in blowout fashion, 117-97

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Milwaukee Bucks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — How do you get people to stop talking about the off-court drama?

You beat a tough team on your home floor.

They’ll have another chance on Monday. The 38-6 Milwaukee Bucks came into Brooklyn and handed the Nets their third straight loss, 117-97, Saturday night at Barclays Center. The Nets are 1-3 since Kyrie Irving has returned to the lineup; 0-3 against above .500 teams.

At the midway point, the Nets are five games below .500. Last season they fell to as many as 10. They’re 2-10 in the last 12 contests,

“Credit to Milwaukee,” said Kenny Atkinson. “I think they are playing as good as anybody I’ve seen in a while in this league. So just have to give them credit, give Bud (Mike Budenholzer) credit. They’re playing great basketball.”

This was never really a game. Milwaukee had Brooklyn’s stars locked down with a focus on defending the perimeter, dropping in the pick-and-roll and forcing turnovers. And then, there was Giannis Antetokounmpo. He went off for 29 points and 12 rebounds, though he turned the ball over eight times — tying a career-high.

It was 23-22 in favor of the Bucks near the end of the first quarter. They closed out the quarter on a 7-0 run, 30-22 at the end of the first quarter, and never looked back. That same 7-0 run extended into a 16-2 run in the second quarter, bringing Milwaukee’s lead up to 15.

When Kyrie checked out, the Nets were down two. By time he checked back in, they were down 15.

And so, the rout continued all throughout the night. The fans were heard booing as the Nets lost their third straight and fell to 18-23 on the season. Granted, Joe Harris and DeAndre Jordan were both out, but who knows how much that would have changed.

Kyrie Irving finished with a team-high 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting, while Caris LeVert was 3-of-13 and Spencer Dinwiddie was 3-of-12. The positive? Nicolas Claxton finished with 14 points and six rebounds in 19 minutes.

“It was great defense,” said Giannis afterward. “He (Kyrie Irving) obviously wasn’t making the shot he usually makes, but I think they did a great job. Brook (Lopez) did a great job being up there making a tough finish. But we know he’s going to be a guy that makes 20 shots, but we’ve got to try to just make the stop as we can and that’s what we did tonight and why we were able to get this win so easily.”

The Nets turned the ball over 17 times leading to 16 points for Milwaukee. They shot 49 3-pointers and made 15 of them. That’s 30.6 percent. Compare that to Milwaukee, who dished out 30 assists and shot 17-of-37 from three.

“I’m going to give him a compliment, Brook Lopez is a great defender down there,” said Jarrett Allen. “On the pick-and-roll, he sits back and that kind of takes away my roll, and for me I was trying to stick to screens to get our guards shots.”

It won’t get any easier. They play Philadelphia on Monday and then the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

It is what it is.

HOW BAD THE NETS OFFENSE?

Really bad. Really, really bad. Nets fan Chris Lavinio compiled the awful stats following the Bucks game.

And you won’t find much hope in the next segment. Intrigue, yes, hope no.

ATKINSON TALKS KEVIN DURANT

But, this, of course...

However...

And about what he likes about the team through 41 games, Atkinson talked about the culture...

Listen to the full audio here:

THE BIG POSITIVE

Nicolas Claxton filled in for DeAndre Jordan, out for at least a week with a dislocated middle finger, and looked good, very good in fact.

In 19 minutes, the 6’11” rookie scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots. More importantly, Claxton looked confident on both ends of the court.

“Once he gets stronger, he’s going to be a heck of a player for us. He’s a competitor, a high-level competitor. We’re really bullish on him.”

“I just have to be ready when my name is called,” said Claxton. “That’s kind of the situation that I’m in. So wherever I am, if I’m in Long Island or if I’m here with the team, I just have to do my best and continue to develop.”

It was the first time the 21-year-old Allen and 20-year-old Claxton had combined for the Nets. Four years ago, they played against each other in the FIBA U18 tournament in Valdivia, Chile, Allen for Team USA and Claxton for the US Virgin Islands, a game the US dominated, considering their roster featured Trae Young, Kevin Porter Jr., Kevin Huerter and Markelle Fultz as well as Allen.

The USA won 107-63 in a blowout. Both Allen and Claxton scored seven points but Allen out rebounded Claxton 10 to six. If you’re really ambitious, here’s the video of the full game. Allen’s the guy with the Afro.

As he has in the past when the Bucks are in town, former President Clinton sat courtside Saturday with his friend and supporter Marc Lasry, the Milwaukee owner. This time, though, was joined by Joe Tsai and Oliver Weisberg, the Nets interim CEO who also runs Tsai’s Hong Kong-based investment vehicle.

Later, Clinton and Tsai were seen in rapt conversation — we need a transcript. And when he posed with the Nets Hero of the Game, a retired US Army colonel, the crowd went wild. Clinton retreated from the court at halftime, then returned for the second half. While his teammates were warming up, Jarrett Allen took the opportunity to talk with the former president.

NETS IN THE TOP-10 FOR JERSEY SALES

For the first time since 2014, the Brooklyn Nets are in the top-10 of NBA merchandise sales. Turns out, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are pretty popular guys in this league. Irving and Durant placed 10th and 12th in the NBA, respectively, in individual player jersey sales. We haven’t seen this since the Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson team.

That’s WITH only 14 games being played between the two. Next year should be even higher.

KYRIE CLEARS THE AIR

Whether you agree with Kyrie Irving’s quote after Wednesday’s loss to Philadelphia, he probably shouldn’t have went on camera to say it. The Nets like to handle things behind closed doors and if depending on how you read it, some might say he singled players out.

Whatever. He cleared up his comments at Friday’s practice.

My perspective...

Win games and nobody will question what’s said. Time to move forward...

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Next up: 76ers at home on Monday, 3:00 PM ET.

Mil

For a different perspective, head on over to BrewHoop, our Bucks sister site on SB Nation.