Bucks’ Jrue Holiday blames officiating for inability to stop Nets

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At one point during his postgame interview Tuesday night in Brooklyn, Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday turned a spotlight on the number of fouls that beset his teammates.

Holiday had been asked about Kevin Durant’s historic 49-point triple-double when he swerved the query toward the officiating.

“I think calls helped [Durant],’’ Holiday said after the Bucks’ 114-108 defeat put them in a 3-2 hole heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday in Milwaukee. “Obviously he got into a groove. What, he played 48 minutes — the whole game. By the end of the game, I had three fouls. Tuck [P.J. Tucker] had five. Giannis [Antetokounmpo] had six, Brook [Lopez] had four. Khris [Middleton] had four. It gets hard.’’

It was one in a series of unsolicited referee references by Holiday, who got into foul trouble early Tuesday, and took a seat after his second infraction seven minutes into the game. Holiday seemed obsessed with how the game was called.

“I had three fouls in the first half,’’ he said. “Tuck had two, Giannis had two. A lot of those weren’t equal on both sides of the ball.’’

Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) drives into Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13)
Jrue Holiday didn’t seem too impressed with the Game 5 officiating.
Corey Sipkin

Amid his epic explosion, Durant finished with three fouls in 48 minutes. James Harden picked up three fouls in 45:39. In total, the Bucks were flagged for 24 fouls to the Nets’ 19.

When asked if there were a better method of playing against Harden when he had limited mobility, Holiday again invoked the officiating.

“Attack him,’’ Holiday said. “But it’s not even like he’s going to get calls on him.’’

“Brooklyn’s a great team,’’ Holiday added when asked about the Bucks blowing a 17-point lead. “You can’t even count anyone out especially in the second round. We have to do a better job controlling the game and get some calls on our side.’’

Antetokounmpo fouled out, but that was with six seconds left and the Bucks down four. On Monday, Holiday and Antetokounmpo had been named to the NBA All-Defensive first team.

“I don’t know if fate wasn’t on our side,’’ Holiday said. “We got some dogs and we play defense as well and we probably do it the best in the league. So for the game to be mucked up like it was is a little disappointing to me.’’

Antetokounmpo said he didn’t believe officiating factored into Milwaukee’s collapse.

“I have to go back and watch tape before I have an opinion,’’ he said. “I try to not focus on fouls. Obviously times referees will miss some, make the right call, make a bad call. But we have to focus on the effort. Coming out of the third quarter, our effort has to be a little more. I care about how our effort was.’’

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