Nets pull within a game of Knicks

It wasn’t exactly how they drew it up, but the Brooklyn Nets will certainly take it.

On Wednesday night in Milwaukee, the Nets trailed the Bucks by as many as 15 points in the third quarter. They shot 32.6 percent in the first half, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez combined to shoot 6-for-27 and score 17 points, and Brandon Jennings went for 31 points and 11 assists. And they should’ve blown an 11-point lead with 1:50 remaining.

But Monta Ellis missed all three free throws he was awarded after Deron Williams inexplicably fouled him shooting a desperation 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left.

And, as a result, the Nets are 11 games over .500 for the first time in seven years and a game behind the New York Knicks in the Atlantic Division standings.

Good luck trying to figure it all out. Seriously, don’t waste your time.

“This team is not a good matchup for us,” Nets interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said after his team gutted out a 97-94 victory over the Bucks at Bradley Center. “And to find a way to win with the circumstances that were here tonight, speaks a lot about our team. That’s a helluva win for us.”

The Nets (33-22) have now won four straight games and are averaging 104.5 points and shooting 45 percent (46.4 percent from 3-point range) over that span. They are 15-20 against .500-or-better teams, 13-12 on the road and 19-8 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Since the All-Star break, they’ve earned back-to-back clutch wins over the Bucks, who had beaten them the previous 13 times the teams had played one another.

“It was a good win for us,” said Williams, who had team-highs of 23 points and eight assists. “We battled. We got down, but didn’t hang our head. We kept fighting back and were able to take control of the game. Then we had a lot of mistakes at the end -- I had a lot of mistakes -- but we still pulled it out.”

They pulled it out because they got 47 points from their bench and improved to 10-0 on the season when their bench scores 40 or more points. C.J. Watson led the way with 17 points -- including a huge layup in the final minute -- while Andray Blatche added 12 points and 12 rebounds.

MarShon Brooks and Kris Humphries -- candidates to be dealt by Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline -- combined for 10 clutch points in the fourth quarter.

The Nets ended up outscoring the Bucks 55-40 in the second half -- 29-18 in the final period.

Mind you, Johnson, who hit his second game-winning buzzer-beater of the season Tuesday night, was held under double-digit scoring for the first time in 36 games, and Lopez didn’t play in the fourth for basically the second straight game. Also, the Nets avoided a scare when Ellis bricked all three of his shots from the stripe.

“I was like, ‘What the hell!’” Gerald Wallace said when D-Will fouled Ellis. “But when he missed the first two, I thought we were home free.”

“It’s hard to keep coming back, coming back, coming back and we did it,” Carlesimo said.