Giannis Antetokounmpo recovered from a slow start to score 30 points and grab 13 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks returned from the All-Star break to earn a 98-97 victory over the visiting Boston Celtics on Thursday night.
- Points: Kyrie Irving – 22
- Assists: Irving/Horford – 5
- Rebounds: Al Horford – 17
- Points: Giannis Antetokounmpo – 30
- Assists: Giannis Antetokounmpo – 6
- Rebounds: Antetokounmpo/Middleton – 13
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Khris Middleton scored 15 points for the Bucks, including a tie-breaking three-pointer with 32.5 seconds remaining.
The Bucks improved their NBA-best record to 44-14 while winning for the 15th time in their past 17 games and the ninth time over their past 10 games.
Kyrie Irving scored 22 points and Al Horford added 21 for the Celtics, who lost for just the fourth time in their past 16 games. Irving had missed the last two games before the break with a knee strain, although he did play 25 minutes Sunday in the All-Star Game.
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Irving made a lay-up with 27.5 seconds left to cut Boston’s deficit to one, but he missed a wild left-handed shot for the win at the buzzer.
Antetokounmpo had 38 points in the All-Star Game, but he returned to regular-season action by scoring just four points in the opening quarter as the Celtics took an early 22-20 lead.
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The rust showed on both sides as the Bucks shot 33.3 per cent in the opening quarter and the Celtics were slightly better at 36.5 per cent. The Bucks committed seven turnovers in the first 12 minutes.
Milwaukee started to find themselves in the second period, taking a 53-47 lead into half-time, and the Bucks entered the fourth quarter with a 72-68 lead.
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Malcolm Brogdon scored 15 points for the Bucks, who had a 55-50 rebounding average and committed just eight turnovers after the first quarter.
Antetokounmpo recorded his 41st double-double of the season. Middleton added 13 rebounds while Brook Lopez had 10 points.
Jayson Tatum scored 17 and Jaylen Brown added 15 for the Celtics, who saw their four-game road winning streak end. Horford had 17 rebounds, and Tatum had 10.
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Nikola Mirotic made his Bucks debut after coming over in a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans. Mirotic, who had not played since January 23 because of a calf injury, eased back into action with 13 minutes of floor time, scoring eight points.
The Celtics were playing without Gordon Hayward, who was sidelined due to an ankle injury but might be ready to play Saturday at Chicago.
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