MILWAUKEE — After slogging through a poor-shooting first half, the Milwaukee Bucks found their rhythm after halftime.
Defense and the transition game set the tone for coach Jason Kidd’s young team.
Khris Middleton scored 12 of his 18 points in the third quarter, and Milwaukee rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Brooklyn Nets 103-97 on Feb. 9.
Jared Dudley had 19 points for Milwaukee, which won its fifth straight home game. Giannis Antetokounmpo added 12 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and three steals.
The Bucks forced eight turnovers while outscoring the Nets 32-16 in the third.
“The way we started the third quarter, we really took control of the game and being able to finish the way we did, it’s a real good home win,” Kidd said.
Jarrett Jack had 26 points for the Nets on 10-of-15 shooting. Joe Johnson finished with 19 points and six assists.
But mistakes doomed Brooklyn. It closed to 89-84 midway through the fourth quarter, but Mason Plumlee’s turnover turned into an easy transition layup for Middleton that put the Bucks back up by nine with 3:14 left.
“They’re long, athletic guys out there. They switched a lot of stuff. They were double-teaming us, threw us off our rhythm a little bit,” Nets guard Deron Williams said. “And then anytime we turned the ball over, they turned it into the fast-break opportunities.”
The young Bucks swarmed the veteran Nets in the backcourt and filled passing lanes. Middleton had three steals in the third quarter and used his soft baseline jumper to dent Brooklyn for easy buckets.
“I had smaller guys guarding me at the shooting guard position,” the 6-foot-7 Middleton said. “My shot wasn’t falling, so I tried to put them in a bind by going in the post to see what they would do. I was able to take advantage of it.”
(GENARO C. ARMAS, AP Sports Writer)