NBA playoffs

Bucks even series vs Nets as Irving goes down with injury

Bucks even series vs Nets as Irving goes down with injury

ALL TIED UP. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks win back-to-back games to tie the Nets in their Eastern Conference semifinals duel.

Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Kyrie Irving joins Nets teammate James Harden in the injury list as the Bucks knot their Eastern Conference semifinals series at two games apiece

Giannis Antetokounmpo collected 34 points and 12 rebounds as the host Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a 107-96 victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals over the Brooklyn Nets, who lost Kyrie Irving to a sprained right ankle, on Sunday, June 13 (Monday, June 14, Manila time).

The series is tied at two games apiece as the best-of-seven affair returns to Brooklyn.

Although X-rays of Irving’s ankle were negative, his availability for the remainder of the series is uncertain.

The Bucks followed up winning a defensive struggle in Game 3 to assure the series will last at least six games.

Antetokounmpo produced his best game of the postseason by shooting 14-of-26 from the field. He scored 12 points in the decisive third quarter, when the Bucks took control.

Khris Middleton followed up his 35-point showing from Game 3 by adding 19 points as the Bucks made 44% of their shots and hit 16 three-pointers. This came after they had managed to make only 23% (20-of-88) from behind the arc in the first three games of the series.

Jrue Holiday added 14 points for the Bucks, while PJ Tucker chipped in 13 points when he was not shadowing Kevin Durant defensively.

Durant totaled 28 points and 13 boards, but the Nets gradually fell apart after Irving got injured on a layup with 6:04 remaining left in the second quarter.

Irving fell to the floor in pain after awkwardly stepping on Antetokounmpo’s foot after making a layup.

Durant struggled against Tucker’s physicality, making only 9-of-25 shots, including just 1-for-8 three-point attempts. The Nets committed 17 turnovers.

Irving finished with 11 points in his 17 minutes of action, as no other Nets player reached double figures in their third straight game with James Harden watching from the sidelines due to right hamstring tightness.

The Nets led early, building an 11-point before the Bucks rallied. Milwaukee went on a 19-2 surge and Irving’s injury occurred soon after Antetokounmpo’s dunk put Milwaukee ahead for good at 37-36.

From there the Bucks gradually pulled away.

Milwaukee held a 53-48 lead at halftime then surged to a 74-57 lead on a three-pointer by Bryn Forbes with 3:37 left in the third quarter. When Middleton hit a three-pointer with 1.5 seconds on the clock, they carried an 81-69 lead into the fourth quarter.

Milwaukee took a 97-78 edge with about seven minutes left on a three-pointer by Holiday and finished off when an Antetokounmpo dunk made it 101-84 with 3:46 left as the sellout crowd of 16,310 chanted “Bucks in six.” –