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¡¡¡¡MILWAUKEE ¡ª In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Nets held the Bucks¡¯ NBA-best scoring offense to 86 points and won by a franchise playoff record 39. In Game 3 Thursday night at Fiserv Forum, the Nets repeated that feat of holding the Bucks to 86 points, but they scored a season-low 83 and saw their series lead shrink to 2-1.

¡¡¡¡It was a dramatic turnaround at the offensive end for the Nets, who averaged 120 points the first two games of the series and shot lights-out but were totally taken out of their comfort zone by the Bucks in Game 3 and trailed by 21 in the first quarter.

¡¡¡¡”They did what they were supposed to do ¡ª come out aggressive, backs against the wall, and we had to weather that storm,” Kyrie Irving said. “They definitely kind of put us on our heels the rest of the game just playing catch-up, and then they made some big timely shots which carried them forward.

¡¡¡¡”But we had our chances down the stretch. It was a possession-by-possession game. Both teams battling. So that¡¯s a good, old-fashioned playoff game right there.”

¡¡¡¡Both teams shot less than 38% overall, and the Bucks¡¯ 19.4% shooting from three-point range (6-for-31) was even worse than the Nets¡¯ 25% effort (8-for-32).

¡¡¡¡As Nets coach Steve Nash said, “Someone was going to win ugly, and tonight, it was them.”

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¡¡¡¡Game 4 is Sunday afternoon at Fiserv Forum, and Nash said he and the coaching staff would study film to see what went wrong. They can start with the fourth quarter. Kevin Durant produced 11 points and shot 5-for-9, but the rest of the Nets added just seven points and were 3-for-15.

¡¡¡¡After Durant gave the Nets an 83-80 lead with 1:23 left, Khris Middleton scored for the Bucks and Joe Harris, who suffered through a miserable 1-for-11 shooting night, saw an open three go in and out. Then, Jrue Holiday made a go-ahead layup with 11.4 seconds left, and Nash called timeout to set up a play.

¡¡¡¡But Blake Griffin¡¯s inbounds pass was deflected across the court, and Irving was lucky to collect it but was swarmed and had no shot. He passed to an open Bruce Brown, who drove and missed a contested shot at the rim with 6.4 seconds left before the Nets fouled Middleton with 2.1 seconds to go.

¡¡¡¡It begged the question of why the Nets didn¡¯t get the ball to Durant or Irving in the final minute, but they actually tried to do that and simply failed to execute. Brown was terrific all night, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, but he made only one of six fourth-quarter shots after shooting 7-for-11 the first three quarters.

¡¡¡¡”We all know we want Kevin or Ky to shoot the ball, but if they don¡¯t get free, they¡¯ve got to make the right play,” Nash said. “So they made the right play . . . We can get better at handling these moments. It was a great test for us, and I think it was a lot to learn from.”

¡¡¡¡Discussing the scramble situation that led to his pass to Brown in the final seconds, Irving said, “Usually, Bruce puts us in a great position to have something at the rim that goes in, but tonight, it just didn¡¯t go in for us. It¡¯s not on him, it¡¯s not on any one person. We¡¯ve just got to execute. They really were physical with us down the stretch and made it tough, so got to give them credit.

¡¡¡¡”That¡¯s just good, old-fashioned playoff basketball. We feel like we did a good job defending them, and they feel like they did a good job defending us. So Game 4 should be special.”

¡¡¡¡Newsday sports writer Greg Logan.

¡¡¡¡By Greg Logan

¡¡¡¡greg.logan@newsday.com

¡¡¡¡@GregLogan1

¡¡¡¡Greg Logan has worked for Newsday since 1982 covering a wide array of sports and events, currently including the Brooklyn Nets beat.

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