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Nets clobber Bucks without Harden, take 2-0 series lead

Kevin Durant had 32 points and six assists as the Brooklyn Nets rolled to their largest playoff win in franchise history on Monday with a 125-86 beat down of the Milwaukee Bucks in game two of their NBA series.

Kyrie Irving finished with 22 points and four threes while Joe Harris and Bruce Brown each scored 13 for the Nets, who seized a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.

Durant said he didn’t want to settle for anything less than a championship.

“We still got a long ways to go,” he said. “When we play hard together, good things happen.”

“I think we’re capable of greatness every single night,” Irving said.

The series now switches to Milwaukee for game three on Thursday.

“For the most part we just did what we were supposed to do, win two at home and we’ve got to see if this game is going to travel on the road for us and we’ve got to stay locked in,” Durant said.

The Nets were missing all-star James Harden with a hamstring injury but it is a situation they have become accustomed to all season long. 

A string of injuries has limited the time that Durant, Irving and Harden have been able to suit up in the same game, and they played just eight games together during the regular season.

But once they got over the initial shock of Harden getting hurt in the first minute of game one, the Nets haven’t looked back in winning both games at home in dominant style.

The Nets led by as much as 49 points in game two. Their 39-point win, in front of a crowd of 15,700 at the Barclays Center arena, is their largest playoff victory ever and the biggest since beating Golden State in a regular season game by 41 points, 129-88, on February 2020.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was held to just 18 points but still managed a triple double by adding 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Bucks, who have fallen behind 2-0 in a second round playoff series for the second straight season.

Milwaukee lost the first three games to Miami before being eliminated in five games during the second round last season.

“I don’t get too high, I don’t get too low. After the Miami series, we were up 4-0, and coming to this series, I wasn’t high. Now that we’re down 2-0, I’m not low,” Antetokounmpo said.

Khris Middleton had 17, Jrue Holiday scored 13 and Brook Lopez and Bryn Forbes each scored 10 in the loss.

“We feel like we’re better than the way we’re playing and we know that,” guard  Jrue Holiday said. “But at this point, we can’t really be down. We’ve got to stay positive.”

The Bucks have been let down by their three-point shooting, missing 43 of 57 from beyond the arc in the first two contests.

Elsewhere, Chris Paul finished with 21 points and 11 assists to power the second seeded Phoenix Suns to a 122-105 win over the Denver Nuggets in the opening game of their second round series.

Mikal Bridges scored 23 points, Devin Booker tallied 21 points, and Deandre Ayton delivered 20 points and 10 rebounds for Phoenix, who outscored the Nuggets 59-33 over the final 20 minutes.

Game two is Wednesday in Phoenix.

Nikola Jokic finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots, Aaron Gordon scored 18 points and Michael Porter added 15 points for Denver. 

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