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Bucks blow big lead then rally to edge Nets, 86-83, in Game 3

Jrue Holiday (center) was the hero of the game for the Bucks, who finally got on board with a victory in their series against the Nets.
Jrue Holiday (center) was the hero of the game for the Bucks, who finally got on board with a victory in their series against the Nets.Morry Gash/Associated Press

Jrue Holiday made a go-ahead driving layup with 11.4 seconds left and the Milwaukee Bucks edged the Brooklyn Nets, 86-83, on Thursday night in Game 3 after two blowout losses in New York.

Kevin Durant’s 3-point attempt to tie bounced off the rim as the horn sounded. He scored the Nets’ last 9 points and finished with 30.

Game 4 of the second-round series is Sunday in Milwaukee.

Khris Middleton scored 35 points, and Giannis Antetokounmpo added 33 for the Bucks. They won after blowing a 21-point lead.

Holiday scored just 9 points and shot 4 of 14 but made the biggest basket of the night.


Brooklyn led, 83-82, when Bruce Brown missed a jumper with just over 20 seconds left. Antetokounmpo got the rebound, the Bucks worked the ball upcourt and Holiday drove to the basket to put Milwaukee ahead for good, 84-83.

After Brown missed his own driving layup attempt with just over 6 seconds left, Middleton got the rebound. Middleton made a pair of free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining to cap the scoring.

Kyrie Irving scored 22 and Brown had 16 for the Nets.

The Bucks started out intent on turning Game 3 into a complete reversal of Game 2, which they lost, 125-86, as the Nets recorded their most lopsided playoff victory in franchise history.

Milwaukee grabbed a 30-9 lead in the first 10½ minutes but then got outscored 22-3 during a stretch that lasted nearly 9½ minutes as the Nets clawed their way back into the game.

Neither team ever led by more than 5 points in a second half that had emotions high on both sides.

After P.J. Tucker got called for fouling Durant in the third quarter, Tucker started complaining about the call. That led to Tucker and Durant jawing at each other as they got face to face, with officials calling a double technical on the two players.


Usual schedule returns

The league told teams it intends to return to a normal schedule next season, with training camps opening in late September and the regular season set to begin on Oct. 19.

A memo that was sent to teams, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, does not specify when the 2021-22 regular season will end — and that’s because it has yet to be officially decided if the play-in tournament will return. If it does, and there are no indications that it won’t, the likely date to end the regular season would be April 10.

The return to the normal schedule is not an unexpected development, and Commissioner Adam Silver has said several times that the league’s intention for the past several months — virus-permitting — was to get the league back onto its regular calendar after two seasons of schedule havoc because of the pandemic.

Paul leads Suns to 2-0 series lead

Chris Paul is a 36-year-old man who can still put together an NBA point guard’s version of a virtuoso performance: Fifteen assists, no turnovers and it led to another blowout playoff victory for his rolling Phoenix Suns.

“I feel good,” Paul said. “I feel really good.”

Chris Paul has the Suns sitting pretty this postseason.
Chris Paul has the Suns sitting pretty this postseason.Matt York/Associated Press

Apparently so.

The ageless Paul added 17 points, Devin Booker had 18 points and 10 rebounds and host Phoenix routed the Denver Nuggets, 123-98, on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

Nikola Jokic had 24 points and 13 rebounds for Denver, a day after getting the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. But the Nuggets couldn’t find anyone else to score consistently, leaving them reeling going back to Denver for Game 3 on Friday night.


Gobert top defender

Utah center Rudy Gobert became the fourth player to receive the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award at least three times after leading the Jazz to the best record in the league. Gobert received 84 first-place votes and 464 points from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters, it was announced Wednesday night … Jazz point guard Mike Conley was ruled out of Thursday’s Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the LA Clippers because of a mild strain of his right hamstring. Conley, who also missed Utah’s 112-109 victory in Game 1, suffered the injury during the first half of Utah’s series-ending win over the Memphis Grizzlies on June 2.

Olympic training to start

The men’s and women’s national teams will hold training camps in Las Vegas in July, USA basketball announced Thursday, and they’ll be playing seven exhibitions there against other Tokyo Olympics-bound national teams as well. USA Basketball will open its men’s training camp, led by coach Gregg Popovich, on July 6. The Olympic men’s teams from Australia, Nigeria, Argentina and reigning Basketball World Cup champion Spain will also be spending some time in Las Vegas; Argentina will start its training camp there this month … Chicago Bulls guard Coby White had surgery on his left shoulder after injuring it over the weekend. The team said White was hurt “while engaged in basketball activities away from the team” and will be reevaluated in four months, throwing into question his status for training camp and the season opener.