Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday both scored 29 points as the Milwaukee Bucks moved a half-game ahead of the visiting Boston Celtics for second place in the Eastern Conference with a 127-121 win on Thursday.
Milwaukee (50-30) led much of the way thanks to advantages of 58-34 for points in the paint, 14-5 on second-chance points and 19-9 on fastbreaks — a byproduct of the Bucks forcing the Celtics into 15 turnovers.
Boston (50-31) kept the game tight thanks to 21-of-50 3-point shooting.
The Celtics’ Marcus Smart stepped up with teammate Jayson Tatum (knee) on the sideline, scoring 19 of his 29 points in the second half. Smart shot 7 of 12 from 3-point range.
After trailing by as many as 13 points, Boston pulled ahead with 4:25 remaining in the game Smart when sank a 3-pointer. He added a layup to extend the lead to 121-118 with 2:27 to go.
Milwaukee held Boston scoreless the rest of the way.
Bobby Portis (17 points) delivered a 3-pointer at the 2:11 mark on the last of Holiday’s eight assists, tying the score at 121.
Antetokounmpo split a pair of free throws to put Milwaukee ahead with 1:31 left, and Holiday’s tip-in with a minute remaining increased the gap to three.
After a lengthy delay while officials reviewed if a missed 3-point attempt by Boston’s Jaylen Brown drew rim, the Celtics’ Daniel Theis missed a wide-open look at the rim. Antetokounmpo added another free throw, and then George Hill punctuated Milwaukee’s final home game of the regular season with a strip of Brown and fastbreak bucket on the other end.
Brown recorded a triple-double of 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, while Theis added another 22 points in the loss.
Milwaukee is now in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed with road games remaining Friday at Detroit and Sunday at Cleveland. Boston, up by a half-game on the Philadelphia 76ers (49-31), ends its regular season on Sunday in Memphis.
–Field Level Media