The Milwaukee Bucks are still alive.
After a second-half collapse in their previous game put them on the brink of elimination, the Bucks didn’t fold when Game 6 got tight and they pulled away for a 104-89 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday at Fiserv Forum.
That sets up a Game 7 in this second-round series at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night.
Khris Middleton scored 38 points on 11-for-16 shooting and came up with timely buckets every time the game got close. Giannis Antetokounmpo added 30 points and 17 rebounds.
After letting a 17-point lead slip away in Game 5, the Bucks had a comfortable lead dwindle to five points early in the fourth quarter in Game 6. But Middleton kickstarted a 14-0 run and all the tension drained from the arena.
Like Game 5, the Bucks got off to a strong start.
BOX SCORE: Bucks 104, Nets 89
The Nets had four turnovers as Milwaukee raced to an 11-2 lead on a three-point play from Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks pushed that advantage up to 18-5 when Jrue Holiday knocked down a three-pointer from the top of the key. Milwaukee had missed its first four shots from long range.
Nets coach Steve Nash called a timeout with the Bucks bullying their way to 12 points in the paint.
Two jumpers from Kevin Durant and a three-pointer from Blake Griffin got Brooklyn back in the game and it was Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer’s turn to call timeout.
Milwaukee had a 26-19 lead after the first quarter, with Antetokounmpo making just 1 of 5 from the free-throw line in the final minutes.
The Bucks took their largest lead of the first half at 34-21.
But James Harden, who was extremely limited in Game 5, started heating up and the Nets closed within 46-41 before Middleton hit a three-pointer after an offensive rebound by Antetokounmpo.
Middleton hit back-to-back threes near the end of the first half to give the Bucks a 59-48 advantage that they would take into the locker room.
Middleton and Antetokounmpo each played 22 minutes in the first half and scored 19 points. Antetoukounmpo added 11 rebounds. Middleton was 4 of 5 on three-pointers while the rest of the Bucks were 1 for 13.
After scoring just five points on 1-for-10 shooting in Game 5, Harden had 14 points and four assists in the first half. Kevin Durant had 13 points, but shot just 6 for 15.
P.J. Tucker hit a corner three-pointer to open the second-half scoring and give the Bucks a 62-48 lead.
But the Nets wouldn’t go away and they fought back to within 70-63 on a jumper from Durant. Two free throws from Harden made it 72-67 with 1:27 left in the third.
Middleton answered with two midrange jumpers and put back an offensive rebound just before the buzzer to give the Bucks a 78-67 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee scored the first four points of the fourth, then Durant scored five straight in a quick flurry and Budenholzer called timeout to stop the momentum.
The Nets’ Joe Harris immediately scored five straight points of his own to make it 82-77.
The Bucks ended the 10-0 run when Middleton was fouled on a three-pointer and made all his free throws. Holiday added a layup, then Antetokounmpo hit two free throws and a three-point play to make it 92-77.
The Bucks’ run reached 14-0 before Durant ended it with a dunk. But the Bucks were already on their way to victory and the Nets pulled their starters with 4:45 remaining in game.