NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 32 points in three quarters of a top-to-bottom blowout that sent the Brooklyn Nets halfway to the Eastern Conference finals with a 125-86 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
Playing without the injured James Harden but showing no hint that they needed him, the Nets led by as much as 49 and held the NBA’s highest-scoring team 34 points below its season average.
Kyrie Irving added 22 points and Bruce Brown filled in nicely for Harden with 13 points and six rebounds.
The Nets broke down the Bucks’ defense off the dribble all night, setting up uncontested shots that they mostly made. Brooklyn shot 52% from the field and was 21 for 42 from 3-point range.
The Bucks swept their first-round series against Miami but need a big turnaround when they get back home to avoid being swept themselves now.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks, but was thoroughly outplayed by Durant in a matchup of NBA MVP winners and sat dejected on the Bucks’ bench early in the fourth quarter with the game long since hopelessly out of reach.
SUNS 122, NUGGETS 105
PHOENIX (AP) — Chris Paul and his rejuvenated right shoulder scored 21 points and dished 11 assists, Mikal Bridges added 23 points and the Suns beat the Nuggets in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
The Suns trailed for most of the first half and by 10 points early in the third quarter but rallied to take the lead by late in the third. Devin Booker made a 27-foot, step back 3-pointer and Bridges added a driving layup for a 79-72 advantage.
They pushed the lead to 88-79 going into the fourth. Paul — who played with an ailing shooting shoulder through most of the first round matchup against the Lakers — made back-to-back mid-range jumpers to put the Suns up 94-79 with 10:25 left.
The flurry came much to the delight of the sellout crowd of 16,319, who anxiously watched the point guard’s every move.
Paul’s buckets were the final exclamation points on a 34-9 run that helped Phoenix take control. Deandre Ayton finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds while Booker added 21 points.
Game 2 is on Wednesday in Phoenix.
Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 22 points but went cold while the Suns made their second half run.
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