Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo defends James Harden of the Nets during Game 6 of their second-round series Thursday in Milwaukee. The Bucks extended the series to seven games with a 104-89 win. Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Khris Middleton scored 38 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 30 and the Milwaukee Bucks never trailed in a 104-89 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night to force a decisive seventh game in their second-round playoff series.

Game 7 will be Saturday night in Brooklyn. The home team has won each of the first six games.

Milwaukee never trailed and broke the game open by going on a 14-0 run that started with less than 8½ minutes left.

Middleton answered every Brooklyn comeback attempt and had 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals to go along with the highest scoring total of his playoff career. Antetokounmpo had 17 rebounds.

The Bucks shot just 7 of 33 from 3-point range but made up for it by outscoring the Nets 26-4 in fast-break points.

Milwaukee bounced back two nights after blowing a 17-point lead in a 114-108 Game 5 loss at Brooklyn that featured an epic 49-point, 17-rebound, 10-assist performance from Kevin Durant.


Durant had 32 points and 11 rebounds Thursday. James Harden added 16 points but still looked as though he was at far less than full strength in his second game since returning from a hamstring injury.


MAVERICKS: Rick Carlisle stepped down as Dallas coach, the second major departure for that franchise in as many days.

Carlisle spent 13 seasons in Dallas, leading the Mavericks to the 2011 NBA title. His decision was announced one day after General Manager Donnie Nelson and the team agreed to part ways, ending a 24-year run for Nelson as part of the organization.

“This was solely my decision,” Carlisle said in a statement released to ESPN shortly before the team announced that he was leaving.

Dallas becomes the seventh team with an coaching vacancy, joining New Orleans, Washington, Orlando, Indiana, Portland – and Boston, where Carlisle played for the team that won the 1986 NBA title.


And now the Mavericks need a coach and a GM, in an offseason where they’re also expected to offer 22-year-old Luka Doncic, the team’s best player and now a two-time All-NBA performer, a $201 million extension.

Carlisle went 555-478 in Dallas, taking a team built around Dirk Nowitzki to the title in 2011 – the first, and still only, in Mavs’ history. Dallas made six playoff appearances in the 10 seasons that followed, never getting out of the first round in any of them.

But Dallas owner Mark Cuban insisted after this year’s playoff run ended – the Mavs went 0-3 at home in what became a seven-game first-round loss to the Los Angeles Clippers – that Carlisle was safe and would be back.

Carlisle, apparently, had other ideas. Carlisle told ESPN that he had “a number of in-person conversations” with Cuban in recent days, then came to the decision that it was time to go.

“Rick informed me today about his decision to step down as head coach,” Cuban said. “On top of being a tremendous basketball coach, he was also a friend and a confidant. Rick helped us bring the O’Brien Trophy to Dallas and those are memories I will always cherish.”

Carlisle – who serves as president of the National Basketball Coaches Association – is the winningest coach in franchise history and had the third-longest tenure of any NBA coach in his current job. San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich became coach there in 1996; Miami’s Erik Spoelstra was promoted to head coach by the Heat about two weeks before Carlisle got the job in Dallas.


CLIPPERS: Kawhi Leonard is officially out Friday night for Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz, but Coach Tyronn Lue did not have any update on if it will be longer.

Leonard sprained his right knee Monday night in a Game 4 win. He traveled with the Clippers to Salt Lake City, Lue said, then returned to Los Angeles for further testing. A sprain, by definition, is a ligament injury, but the Clippers have not said which of the four knee ligaments he injured.

Despite missing Leonard, LA took a 3-2 series lead on Wednesday night with a 119-111 victory behind 37 points from Paul George. The Clippers are 12-9 without their All-Star forward this season, including 1-0 in the playoffs.

Leonard – a two-time NBA finals MVP – is averaging 30.4 points in the playoffs.

The Clippers will be looking to close out the series and advance to the conference finals for the first time in the franchise’s 51-year history with a win. The Jazz need a victory on Friday to send it back to Salt Lake City for Game 7 on Sunday. The winner faces the Phoenix Suns.

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