NBA: Nets top Bucks in Game 1 despite James Harden's early exit

Kevin Durant (left) and Khris Middleton at the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York, on June 5, 2021.
Kevin Durant (left) and Khris Middleton at the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York, on June 5, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS

(REUTERS) - Kevin Durant scored 29 points as the Brooklyn Nets survived an injury to James Harden and pulled away late for a 115-107 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals on Saturday (June 5) in New York.

Game 2 is on Monday in Brooklyn, and it could be played without Harden, who injured his right hamstring in the opening minute of the first quarter and did not return.

Kyrie Irving added 25 points and eight assists as the Nets shot 46.9 per cent and had enough other scoring to compensate for Harden's absence.

Joe Harris chipped in 19 and five of Brooklyn's 15 three-pointers.

Blake Griffin contributed 18 points and 14 rebounds, and matched a play-off career-high with four three-pointers.

Mike James added 12 points and seven rebounds.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 34 points.

He shot 16 of 24 from the field and helped Milwaukee score 72 points in the paint.

Former Net Brook Lopez added 19 points and Jrue Holiday contributed 17.

Khris Middleton was held to 13 points on six-of-23 shooting from the floor and missed all five attempts from three-point range.

Milwaukee's potent offence in the paint was negated by an awful three-point shooting display.

The Bucks finished six of 30 - 20 per cent - from behind the arc and shot 44.6 per cent overall.

Without Harden, the Nets still gradually took control, taking the lead for good a little over three minutes into the second quarter before building a 14-point lead through three quarters.

Durant shot 12 of 25, and two of his biggest baskets occurred after Antetokounmpo's 18-footer and three-pointer made it 103-93 with just over seven minutes remaining.

He converted a seven-footer in the lane, and following a missed lay-up by Middleton, Durant threw down a dunk off a no-look feed from Irving to make it 107-93 with 6min 24sec left.

Brooklyn clinched the win when Irving hit Harris with a bounce pass from underneath the rim for a corner three-pointer that made it 115-96 with 3min 41sec remaining.