LOS ANGELES – Kevin Durant had 29 points and 10 rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets resisted Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 34-point performance to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-107 in the opener of their second-round series.
The Nets won the battle between two of the most powerful attacks in the NBA on Saturday night despite losing James Harden to a lingering hamstring injury in the first minute of the game.
Harden was forced out at just 43 seconds, pulling and grabbing the back of his leg after a drive. He didn’t come back.
Kyrie Irving had 25 points and eight assists, Blake Griffin had 18 points and 14 rebounds, a team high, for the Nets, who beat the Bucks in six games in the 2003 Finals, the last time they were ‘they met in the playoffs.
Journeyman Mike James came off the bench to score 12 points in the win.
The second game is on Monday in Brooklyn.
Two-time NBA MVP Antetokounmpo played 35 minutes, shooting 16 of 24 from the floor and grabbing 11 rebounds for underdog Bucks, who led the league with an average of 120.1 points per match.
Both clubs entered the second round of the playoffs after going through their opening streak.
Milwaukee completed a four-game Miami sweep last Saturday to reach the second round for the third straight season.
Brooklyn, which averaged 118.6 points in the regular season, needed five games to beat the Boston Celtics thanks in large part to the trio of Durant, Irving and Harden.
Due to injuries and rest, the line had only played eight games together during the regular season.
Brooklyn had hoped to have the Big Three healthy for the playoffs, but ran into another injury issue with Harden falling in front of a crowd of 15,700 at the Barclays Center arena.
The Nets announced later in the first half that Harden would undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.
Harden, 31, has previously struggled with hamstrings, missing 21 games in April and May. The Nets are 20-17 without Harden and 29-7 with him in the lineup.
Harden averaged 27.8 points and 10.6 assists in the first round against the Celtics.
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