The Milwaukee Bucks managed a win in New York on Wednesday in what was possibly their most anticipated game this season. In dramatic fashion, freshman head coach Jason Kidd returned to Brooklyn for the first time since leaving a head coaching job there for the vacant Milwaukee position. Fans in the Barclays Center taunted the former New Jersey Nets player and one-year coach of Brooklyn on Wednesday night, proclaiming him as a traitor. One fan even delayed the national anthem with their outburst. Kidd shrugged off the return greetings when asked about scene, instead praising his players for a job well done.
Milwaukee entered the mid-week match-up on the heels of a win over the other New York team, the Knicks, at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Tuesday. A game ahead of Cleveland for second place in the central division was the highest position the team has held in over two years, holding a six-and-five record, already winning over a third of the games the team had won in all of the 2013 season.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn, now led by former Bucks assistant Lionel Hollins, is struggling to hold a third place spot in the lowly Atlantic division. The Nets had dropped four straight games coming into Wednesday, maintaining a position in the middle of the pack thanks only to the losing records of four of the five teams in the division; Toronto is atop the Atlantic with nine wins and two losses, also the best record in the eastern conference.
The drama surrounding the game and Kidd's return to Brooklyn began weeks prior to tip-off. Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov hinted to reports on November 4 that Kidd was still upset at the franchise's management for the handling of his departure from the organization. Back in Milwaukee, the head coach responded with a 1-on-1 challenge to Prokhorov. The Russian businessman declined the offer, instead asking that the two leave the playing to their players, who would meet two weeks later.
Kidd came out on top of the airy ego-battle waged on the court on Wednesday. Following an impressive performance in the first two quarters by Brooklyn, the Bucks forced a comeback after halftime, tying the game at 95. A back-and-fourth first overtime saw what should have been a winning last second breakaway layup barley miss from veteran Brandon Knight, leaving Kidd and the Bucks bench in shock. Knight made up for the mistake minutes later in the second overtime, putting down a three pointer that tied the game at 112 and sent it into a third overtime, just the third time in Milwaukee franchise history that a game has gone that deep.
Milwaukee held the Nets to just four points in the final overtime period while earning ten for themselves, sealing the game at 122 to 118. Highlights for the team included a career and game-high 23 points for rookie first round draft pick Jabari Parker, complimented by another 21 from O.J. Mayo, and a combined 36 from Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The second-year guard Antetokounmpo topped the Bucks overall stat board for the night with 12 rebounds, four assists, and three rebounds, all despite twisting an ankle early in overtime.