NEW YORK (AFP) – James Harden scored 34 points and Kevin Durant’s 30 included the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute as the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) new-look Brooklyn Nets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 125-123 on Monday (Jan 18).
Harden, playing his second game for Brooklyn since arriving in a blockbuster trade from the Houston Rockets, added 12 assists.
Durant added six assists and nine rebounds as the Nets held off two-time defending NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in a clash of Eastern Conference powers.
Antetokounmpo scored 34 points with 12 rebounds and seven assists for Milwaukee.
Khris Middleton added 25 points – but could not get a potential game-winning three-pointer to drop in the final second.
“That’s a huge win for us,” Harden said.
“Not having a chance to practice, just going on the fly, we beat a really good Bucks team.”
In a back-and-forth fourth quarter, the Nets trailed 122-123 when Harden missed a three-pointer but managed to corral the rebound and get the ball to Durant, who drained a three-pointer to put Brooklyn up 125-123 with 36.8 seconds remaining.
After Middleton missed a three-point attempt, Durant turned the ball over to give the Bucks one more chance, but Middleton missed again.
“It’s a rejuvenation,” Harden said of arriving in Brooklyn, who were without star guard Kyrie Irving for a seventh straight game.
“This organisation, the Brooklyn Nets, has welcomed me with open arms.”
The game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Arena was one of the marquee match-ups on the NBA’s holiday slate honouring civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.
In Los Angeles, the Golden State Warriors rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the reigning champions Los Angeles Lakers 115-113.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 26 points, despite struggling from three-point range.
Kelly Oubre Jr added 23 for Golden State, his driving lay-up with 3 minutes and 10 seconds remaining knotting the score at 108-108.
Draymond Green followed with a lay-up to give the Warriors their first lead of the night, one they would not give up as Green added another lay-up and Curry added just his third three-pointer of the night to push the Warriors’ lead to five.
LeBron James missed a three-pointer at the buzzer and the Lakers’ five-game winning streak ended.
Dennis Schroder led Los Angeles with 25 points and James added 19.
“Tonight we just found a little resilience,” Curry said.
“Everybody chipped in and weathered the storm against an amazing championship-calibre team. So it was a big win for us.”
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