The Brooklyn Nets came into their December 23 matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks looking to win their eighth straight game. They accomplished their goal, but it did not come without controversy. In the waning moments of the third quarter, with the Nets up 14 points, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo dragged Nets starting center Nic Claxton to the ground by his arm, a play that easily could have resulted in an injury to the Nets big man.
While nothing transpired after the play during the game, Claxton did take exception to the actions of the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player. After the contest, Claxton reposted a clip of the play on his Instagram stories and created a poll asking the question, “is this basketball?” For what it’s worth, the poll results came back with 74% of voters saying yes and 26% of voters saying no.
The latest Nets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Nets newsletter here!
Nets Get Statement Win Over Bucks
The Nets came in riding high on the NBA’s longest active win streak, but from the opening tip, you could sense they felt like they had something to prove. Most of the teams that Brooklyn beat during this stretch either had a key player on the injury report or were just straight-up subpar. Defeating the Bucks would solidify them as contenders.
The Nets led by as many as 23 points in the contest. Still, Milwaukee refused to lose without a fight. They cut the lead to 10 points by the end of the third quarter and were on the brink of a comeback several times in the final period.
But every time the Bucks began to surge, the Nets would answer with a gut punch of their own. It also helped that they held Antetokounmpo to zero points in the fourth quarter. After the start to the season they had, every win has to feel good for the Nets. But beating the top team in the NBA must have catapulted their confidence to a different level.
Kevin Durant Praises Ben Simmons
Even more impressive than the win against the top-seeded Bucks was the way that the Nets won. They did it by committee as they had six players score in double-figures. In fact, almost every player who saw the floor scored except for Cam Thomas, who was the lone player to not register a bucket in the contest.
But the player who stood out the most was Nets All-Star Ben Simmons, who nearly messed around and got a triple-double with a stat line of 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists. Durant had high praise for his teammate after the win.
“He was incredible. 12 [points], 11 [rebounds] and 8 [assists], 3 steals. I think his aggression was good all night,” Durant told reporters after the game.
“Giannis is the most physical guy in the league so there’s gonna be some questionable ones there. I think he stayed with it all game, was able to make life tough, and I think we all did a solid job of showing him a crowd a little bit, making him kick out and forcing him to turn the ball over, seven turnovers. So, Ben’s the catalyst for that, and we’re gonna need that going forward.”
The Nets will have a chance to extend their win streak to nine games in their next matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.