James Harden scored 34 points, and Kevin Durant’s 30 included the go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute as the NBA’s new-look Brooklyn Nets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 125-123 on Monday.
Harden, playing his second game for Brooklyn since arriving in a blockbuster trade, added 12 assists.
Durant added six assists and nine rebounds as the Nets held off two-time defending NBA 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 couldn’t 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 organization, 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 honoring civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.
Across town at Madison Square Garden, Julius Randle scored seven of his 21 points in the final 93 seconds as the New York Knicks held off Orlando 91-84.
Randle shot only 5-of-19 from the floor but added 17 rebounds, while R.J. Barrett had 22 points and 10 rebounds as the Knicks, who ripped Boston on Sunday, won on consecutive days for the first time in 41 tries over more than three years.
“Back-to-back is always tough for us,” Randle said. “We had the lead the whole game, played well. They made a run. Stayed together.
“I couldn’t throw a rock in the ocean but we got it done. It’s a great win for us.”
The Knicks led 19-13 after the first quarter and boosted the margin as high as 14 points early in the fourth. The Magic made a late charge but came up short in their sixth straight defeat.