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Nets end long road trip with win in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE — At long last, the Nets are heading back to Brooklyn.

Displaced for nearly two weeks by the circus’ visit to Brooklyn, the Nets wrapped up their six-game journey on a happy note with a 107-98 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

“The last game is always the hardest because you’re thinking of getting back home after 10 or 11 days,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “I thought the guys came out from the start and put themselves in a position to win the game.”

Including a game at Chicago just before the All-Star break, the Nets played their last seven games on the road and finished with a 4-3 record after a 25-point effort from guard Marcus Thornton against the Bucks.

Thornton, acquired just over a week ago from the Sacramento Kings, came off the bench and hit his first four shots from the field to finish 8 of 13 in just short of 24 minutes.

He scored 13 points in the second quarter and 12 in the fourth while Kidd was resting his starters.

“We know he can shoot the ball and put it in the basket, but coming down the stretch, we needed to find out if he can make plays,” Kidd said. “This was a great opportunity to see that. He stepped up and it gave guys like (Deron Williams) and Joe (Johnson) a chance to breathe.”

Thornton also knocked down four 3-pointers, including one with 2:47 to play that gave the Nets a nine-point lead and snuffed out a late Bucks rally.

“He got some great looks,” Kidd said. “Coming down the stretch, we played through Paul (Pierce) and Marcus was wide open, so he got some great looks. He didn’t make them all, but we trust making the play for one another and that’s what helped us win the game tonight.”

Brooklyn (27-29) led by 11 points early in the fourth quarter at 85-74 after turning a turnover by Bucks guard Ramon Sessions into a 3-pointer by forward Mirza Teletovic with 10:04 to play.

Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo’s steal and dunk got the Bucks within six with 6:11 left.

Brooklyn could not cash in on its next three possessions and Antetokounmpo came through again for Milwaukee, sinking two free throws to make it 89-85 with 5:15 left before the Nets responded with a 3-pointer from Pierce.

Sessions answered with a 3-pointer and Antetokounmpo sank two more free throws to make it a 97-91 game with 3:06 left, but on the Nets’ next possession, Thornton buried a shot from 26 feet to give Brooklyn a 100-91 lead.

“He’s always been a guy that brings it and moves fast,” forward Andrei Kerilinko said. “He can really shoot the ball, so he isn’t surprising me at all.”

Center Andray Blatche had 19 points and 13 rebounds, point guard Deron Williams finished with 15 points, guard Shaun Livingston hit 7 of 11 shots from the field for 14 points and forward Paul Pierce made 5 of 7 from the free throw line for 12 points as the Nets shot 45 percent from the field and made 10 of 25 from beyond the arc.

“It was good seeing some of our pieces coming together,” Livingston said. “Marcus had a good game offensively and kind of jelled with the second unit. We’re trying to form some consistency and played very well together tonight.”

Bucks forward Khris Middleton hit all five of his first-half shots from the field and had 10 points at halftime. But with nine turnovers in the half, the Bucks trailed Brooklyn 55-53 at intermission.

In all, the Bucks committed 18 turnovers that Brooklyn turned into 21 points.

“There were too many mistakes and bad rotations,” Bucks coach Larry Drew said. “We did some good things, but we didn’t do enough good things. They’re a veteran ballclub; they have guys that are really good down the stretch. They made plays and we didn’t.”

Middleton and Sessions each finished with 16 points to lead the Bucks (11-46), who have lost two in a row and four of their last five.

NOTES: Limited to 26 total minutes in the Nets’ last two games, PF/C Kevin Garnett was not available on Saturday because of a sore back. Rookie Mason Plumlee started in Garnett’s place. … Bucks G Ramon Sessions was 11 of 11 from the free throw line on Saturday night and has scored in double figures in each of his last three games. He is averaging 13.0 points per game since joining the Bucks.