MILWAUKEE (AP) — Five points separated the Nets and the Bucks in their home-and-home set, and Brooklyn came away with two straight last-second victories.
Deron Williams scored 23 points and the Nets escaped with a 97-94 victory on Wednesday night after Milwaukee's Monta Ellis missed a chance to tie the game with three foul shots in the final seconds.
"We did a good job of closing the game until the very end," Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. "We made it interesting. We got ourselves an 11-point lead and then did a poor job closing that. It's hard to keep coming back, coming back, coming back, but we did it."
Williams made two free throws and a 3-pointer that gave the Nets their biggest lead at 94-83 with 1:50 left to play. But Milwaukee ran off an 11-2 run down the stretch and pulled to 96-94 with 6.9 seconds left on two layup by Brandon Jennings.
Gerald Wallace inbounded to Williams, but Jennings was draped over the point guard's right side. The contact shook the ball loose and it appeared to hit Williams' foot before rolling out of bounds. After review, the Nets had possession. Williams was fouled and made one of two free throws to make it 97-94 with 3.4 seconds left.
Williams then fouled Ellis on a hurried 3.
"He turned and lost his footing and kind of flopped," Williams said. "If I pushed him, I definitely didn't push enough for him to go flying out of bounds like that. It worked out in the end. Let's say I planned it. I knew he was going to miss the free throws."
Ellis missed the first two shots, and intentionally missed the third.
"Every game isn't going to be pretty," Williams said. "You are going to have these grind it out games. We got down and we are able to fight back and keep our composure and get a win."
Jennings scored 31 points and had 11 assists, Ersan Ilyasova had 12 rebounds and Larry Sanders had 12 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots for Milwaukee.
It was the Nets' fourth consecutive win, all against teams currently holding a playoff spot. With the Knicks losing to Indiana 125-91, the Nets pulled to within one game of first-place New York in the Atlantic Division.
Sanders returned to the Bucks' starting lineup Tuesday after missing four games with a lower back contusion.
"Last night, we didn't have the lead. We had to fight back," Sanders said of the Nets' victory Tuesday night, when Joe Johnson hit a jumper just before time expired to win it in Brooklyn. Johnson also forced the extra session with a tying 3-pointer as regulation wound down.