KEVIN Durant scored 32 points in three quarters and the Brooklyn Nets did not miss a beat without James Harden, cruising to a 125-86 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in New York.
The second-seeded Nets lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 ahead of Game 3 on Thursday in Milwaukee.
Brooklyn, which never trailed, led by as many as 49 points in the fourth quarter. The Nets led by double digits for the final 39:11.
In 33 minutes, Durant shot 12 of 18 from the field and posted his fourth 30-point game of the postseason. He also hit four 3-pointers, grabbed four rebounds and handed out six assists.
Durant finished his latest productive game by going around Giannis Antetokounmpo for a reverse layup with 4.8 seconds left in the third quarter to give Brooklyn a 95-65 lead.
Kyrie Irving added 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting and had six assists for the Nets, who shot 52.1 percent and set a franchise postseason record with 21 3-pointers. It marked the fourth time in their first seven postseason games the Nets shot at least 50 percent from the floor.
Antetokounmpo led the third-seeded Bucks with 18 points and 11 rebounds. He shot 8 of 15 from the floor and missed five of seven free-throw attempts. He is shooting 53.5 percent (23 of 43) from the foul line in the postseason.
Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton added 17 points but missed his first eight shots, finished 8 of 20 from the floor and committed five turnovers. Jrue Holiday was held to 13 points.
The Bucks shot 44 percent and misfired on 19 of 27 3-point tries after shooting 6 of 30 from behind the arc in Game 1.
Harden watched from the bench after being ruled out due to right hamstring tightness. He was injured 43 seconds into Brooklyn’s 115-107 win in the series opener on Saturday.
Without Harden, the Nets dominated early and cruised to their fifth double-digit win of the postseason.
Durant scored 21 as the Nets led by as many as 27 points before half time and took a 65-41 edge into the break. He made 7 of 10 shots prior to intermission, including a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the first quarter that put the Nets up 36-19 after the opening 12 minutes.
COACH OF THE YEAR
The New York Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau was announced as the 2020-21 NBA Coach of the Year on Monday.
It is the second such honor for Thibodeau, who also was named the league’s top coach during the 2010-11 season with the Chicago Bulls. He is the first coach to win the award in his first season with two separate franchises.
Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams received two more first-place votes than Thibodeau (45-43) but lost 351-340 in total points. The 11-point margin was the smallest to separate first and second place since the points format started in 2002-03.
Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder wound up in third place with 161 points and 10 first-place votes.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ Doc Rivers got two first-place votes and took fourth place with 24 points. The Atlanta Hawks’ Nate McMillan (12 points), the Brooklyn Nets’ Steve Nash (seven points) and the Denver Nuggets’ Michael Malone (five points) also appeared on ballots.
Coaches earned five points for every first-place vote, three points for every second-place vote and one point for every third-place vote.
Thibodeau led the Knicks to a 41-31 record, which tied for the fourth-best mark in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks reached the postseason for the first time since the 2012-13 campaign but were eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.
The announcement made Thibodeau the third Knicks coach to win the award. He joined Red Holzman (1969-70) and Pat Riley (1992-93). — Reuters