On a Friday night featuring a clash between two Eastern Conference powers, the Brooklyn Nets charged their way over the Milwaukee Bucks, carving an emphatic 118-100 win in front of the delighted Barclays Center crowd.
Milwaukee, being touted as one of the feared title heavyweights this season, can only offer such weight for Brooklyn, and Kevin Durant is nothing but happy to be at the top with his troops.
“It’s good for us. It was good for us to keep stacking days,” Durant said postgame, via Kristian Winfield of New York Daily News. “We respect Milwaukee and understand how dominant they’ve been this season. So we wanted to come out, and we understand everybody watching this game looked at it as a big regular-season game. So I think we tried to approach it that way.”
Durant led the way for Brooklyn, churning 24 points in another efficient showing. Five other Nets cagers posted double-digit markers to establish the solid statement win, with Nic Claxton feasting down low by having that 19-point night while adding up eight boards and five assists.
Make it now eight-straight wins for the sizzling Nets, who found a massive, franchise-altering revival since Jacque Vaughn inherited the team’s head coaching keys upon parting ways with the embattled Steve Nash.
“That’s a championship team. They’ve learned how to play with all their guys, without all their guys,” Vaughn said, referring to Khris Middleton who missed the match with knee woes. “No panic from us. No excuses from us. Next man up as far as what the rotation’s gonna be.
“We’re gonna show up every night. We’re gonna try to win and whoever is called on to play is gonna play.”
Ben Simmons, on his part, also contributed a major piece on Brooklyn’s robust victory over Milwaukee. Finishing the match with 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, he served as the club’s relentless machine on both ends with his defense and playmaking abilities.
His defensive assignment of guarding Giannis Antetekounmpo was too daunting, but he came up huge when it mattered. Though the Greek superstar provided 26 points, 13 boards and seven assists, he only attempted 13 shots and made nine of them.
Antetokounmpo’s field goal attempts averages stands at 21.1 throughout this season, with Simmons perhaps playing a great role to pull that passiveness on the part of the Bucks franchise cornerstone.
“He was incredible,” Durant said of Simmons. “I think he stayed with it [guarding Giannis] all game, was able to make life tough, and I think we all did a solid job of showing him a crowd a little bit, making him kick-out and forcing him to turn the ball over. Seven turnovers.
“So Ben’s the catalyst for that, and we’re gonna need that going forward.”
With the recent dub, the Nets are gaining major momentum to climb up higher the Eastern Conference ladder. Their Dec. 26 showdown with the Cleveland Cavaliers will decide if they can move up and occupy the top three spot.