Bucks persevere, take down Nets in dramatic fashion
All that stood between the Milwaukee Bucks and their third straight win was an uncontested layup Brandon Knight likely makes 99 times out of 100 attempts.
Knight picked off an errant Joe Johnson pass with 4.8 seconds remaining in a tie game in overtime and just had to beat the clock and a trailing Bojan Bogdanovic to give the Bucks a victory in coach Jason Kidd's return to Brooklyn.
But Knight somehow missed and the game went to a second overtime.
However, the point guard overcame the shocking moment to send the game to a third overtime with a clutch 3-pointer late in the second extra session. Milwaukee eventually outlasted Brooklyn in the third overtime to pull out a 122-118 victory at Barclays Center.
"Big character game for our young guys to fight all the way to the end," Kidd said. "We had a chance to win the game at the buzzer and missed it, but nobody hung their heads. Guys kept B-Knight engaged.
"Basketball is funny. He got another opportunity for a big shot and knocked it down to tie it."
Trailing 95-93 late in regulation, the Bucks forced Deron Williams into a tough 3-point shot that he missed. O.J. Mayo was able to corral the loose rebound and take it the length of the court for a game-tying layup with 30.4 seconds to play.
Milwaukee's defense was excellent again on the ensuing possession, as Kevin Garnett threw up a prayer of a 3-point attempt with the shot clock running out.
After the timeout, Mayo appeared to have a lane to the basket but fumbled the ball and missed a tough shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
"After my play at the end of regulation everybody was like, 'Forget about it. We have five more minutes left,'" Mayo said. "Same thing with B-Knight after that. We didn't win it there but we had five more minutes to go out and compete."
Jarrett Jack put Brooklyn up 112-109 by hitting a 20-foot jumper with 23.9 seconds to play in the second overtime.
On the next possession, Knight inbounded the ball to Ersan Ilyasova, who hit Knight immediately off a cut. Using the separation from the cut and a Zaza Pachulia screen, Knight buried the 3-pointer to tie the game at 112 with 19.6 seconds to play.
"I know he wanted it bad, but I think every guy in a Bucks uniform wanted it worse than him for him because he's a very hard worker," Mayo said of Knight. "We didn't want him to go away thinking he lost the game because that wasn't the case. He ended up hitting a big shot."
The game went to a third overtime when Johnson missed a jumper with Giannis Antetokounmpo defending.
With the Bucks playing on the second night of the back-to-back and the Nets having not played since Monday, Kidd decided to use some fresh legs at the start of the third overtime.
The move paid off as Ilyasova, Khris Middleton and John Henson all had an impact in the period. Ilyasova and Middleton scored Milwaukee's first eight points of the third overtime, giving the Bucks a 120-115 lead with 1:32 left.
Williams hit a 3-pointer to keep the Nets alive, but Bogdanovic missed a shot from beyond the arc that would have given Brooklyn the lead with 19.9 to play.
All the Bucks had to do is get the ball in bounds and hit their free throws to win, but that became an adventure. Milwaukee burnt a timeout immediately after Bogdanovic's miss and had to use another when it couldn't get the ball in.
Brooklyn had a foul to give, meaning Milwaukee had to get the ball in twice without having a timeout to fall back on. The Bucks were successful once, but they were whistled for a 5-second violation with 15.5 seconds left.
Williams drove the lane and could have taken the ball to the rack for the tie, but he anticipated the length of Antetokounmpo coming to help. He instead kicked the ball to Johnson for a long two in the corner, but he missed again trying to shoot over Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals and was a big factor defensively against Johnson, one of the more clutch late-game shooters in the NBA. The second-year forward rolled his ankle by coming down on Knight's foot early in the second overtime but stayed in the game.
"He made it tough," Kidd said of Antetokounmpo. "Joe is one of the best in the game, and he gets even better late. Giannis did everything, especially after he twisted his ankle there. He's a competitor, a warrior and didn't want to come out. He was great on both ends."
After arriving in Brooklyn in the middle of the night following a home win over the Knicks on Tuesday, the Bucks had four players log over 38 minutes Wednesday. Antetokounmpo and Knight each played 48 minutes, while rookie Jabari Parker scored a career-high 23 points in 42 minutes.
Nine members of the current Bucks roster, including Knight, Antetokounmpo and Parker, weren't born the last time Milwaukee played a game that went at least three overtimes. It was Milwaukee's first three-overtime game since Nov. 9, 1989, when the Bucks pulled out a 155-154 victory over Seattle in five overtimes.
The young Bucks now have seven wins on the season, a mark they didn't reach last season until New Year's Eve.
"I think it is just a great learning tool for them and their confidence," Kidd said. "This league is built on confidence. Sprinkle in athletic ability and basketball IQ. They are growing. You can see it right in front of us."
Sanders returns: After sitting out Tuesday's game against the Knicks with a bruised left thigh, Bucks center Larry Sanders returned to the starting lineup Wednesday.
Sanders scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in 14 minutes, but he didn't play from the 7:26 mark of the third quarter on.
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