Bucks hold off Trail Blazers for 93-90 win

PORTLAND, Ore. — Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined for 48 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks past the Portland Trail Blazers 93-90 Tuesday night.

Damien Lillard’s game-tying three-point attempt with 6.4 seconds left ricocheted off the backboard to end a three-game winning streak for Portland. But for the Bucks, it was their ninth win in 11 games, keeping Milwaukee in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 12 games to play.

Middleton’s 26 points led the way for a Bucks team that was outscored in the third quarter 28-19. But Milwaukee rallied in what is a pivotal stretch for the Bucks — six straight road games.

”This shows how much we’ve grown over the season,” Middleton said. ”At this time last season we would’ve panicked but tonight and on this road trip we stayed with it and weathered the storm.”

The rebounding was evenly split 49-49, but where Milwaukee had its greatest advantage was three-point shooting. The Bucks converted on 43.8 percent (7-of-16), while the Trail Blazers were just 19 percent (4-of-21) from beyond the arc.

Bucks beat Timberwolves for sixth straight victory

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks picked up their sixth win in a row Saturday night by defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 102-95 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Milwaukee is starting to figure out how to win without gaudy numbers from Giannis Antetokounmpo, taking advantage of double digit scoring by seven players en route to the win. Tony Snell led the Bucks with 19 points, while Antetokounmpo added 18.

”We’d love for everybody to score 10 points but the big thing is these guys kept fighting,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ”There are a lot of tired bodies in that locker room.”

The six-game winning streak is the longest Milwaukee has had since the 2011-2012 season. The current run has also placed the Bucks into playoff contention, currently holding what would be the eighth and final playoff spot with about 2 ½ weeks to play.

”You’ve got to play for today,” Kidd said. ”You can’t control the lottery balls. You never know what the future holds. With free agency and the way things change so fast in this league, you have to try to get through that process sooner rather than later.”

It’s the fifth straight game Milwaukee has held its opponent under 100 points — a season-best streak.

Giannis goes for 32 points in Milwaukee’s 104-93 win over the Knicks

The Milwaukee Bucks have caught fire.

Powered by 32 points and 13 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee got a 104-93 comeback victory over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night to claim its fourth straight win.

A pair of Courtney Lee free throws midway through the third quarter gave the Knicks a 12-point lead. But the Bucks closed the period on a 19-4 run — 16 of those points coming from either Antetokounmpo or center Greg Monroe — to take a three-point lead and they didn’t trail again.

Monroe finished with 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench, while Khris Middleton went for 18 points, including a 4 of 6 night from beyond the arc.

Derrick Rose led the way for the Knicks with 26 points.

The win left Milwaukee tied with the Miami Heat and a half-game back of Chicago and Detroit for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks will return to action on Friday when they host the Indiana Pacers at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Bucks beat 76ers for third straight win

PHILADELPHIA — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Tony Snell helped the Milwaukee Bucks to their third consecutive win, taking down the Philadelphia 76ers 112-98 Monday night.

Antetokounmpo had 24 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, while Tony Snell scored 18 of his season-high 21 points in the first half. Snell added seven rebounds and two steals in the effort.

”Right now we’re playing our best basketball,” Antetokounmpo said. ”Everybody is playing hard, we’re playing team basketball and we’re making a (playoff) push. That’s great for us right now.”

The Bucks led from the get-go, leading by as many as 27 points and beating the 76ers for the first time in three tries this season. Philadelphia couldn’t shoot itself back into the game, converting on just 8-of-30 (26.7 percent) of its three-point attempts.

A strange trend forming for Milwaukee is the “John Henson effect.” The Bucks are 7-0 in their last seven games when Henson doesn’t get playing time, but 0-5 in their last five games where he takes the court.

Bucks finally tame Raptors, 101-94

MILWAUKEE — With Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry sidelined after wrist surgery, the Milwaukee Bucks ended a seven-game losing streak to the Raptors by a score of 101-94.

Khris Middleton led the Bucks in scoring with a season-high 24 points, doing so playing in back-to-back games for the first time since returning from his torn hamstring that caused him to miss the first 50 games of the season. Giannis Antetokounmpo added 21 points, Malcolm Brogdon poured in 17, and Spencer Hawes provided 16 off the bench.

It was the first game action Hawes saw for Milwaukee since being traded from Charlotte last month. He played 17 minutes, adding eight rebounds and an assist.

”I’ve been fortunate to be in this league a long time now,” Hawes said. ”That experience kind of teaches you ups, downs, staying ready, being professional when your number’s called.”

Milwaukee used a 41-23 scoring advantage in the second quarter to take the lead for good, also out-rebounding Toronto 42-36. The transition points and bench scoring made up for the Bucks’ inability to convert from three-point range (22.2 percent, 6-27). Milwaukee was also able to hold DeMar DeRozan to single-digit scoring for the majority of the contest. He finished with 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting in 31 minutes of action.

Energized Bucks down turnover-prone Clippers 112-101

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks forced the Los Angeles Clippers into 23 turnovers on their way to a 112-101 win at the BMO Harris Bradley Center Friday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greg Monroe put up 24 points apiece in the win, helping the offense put together a 20-2 run  at the end of the first quarter to give Milwaukee a 23-point cushion. That lead was nearly squandered by the end of the third quarter, but a 15-2 run kept Milwaukee ahead for good.

The win helped ease the pain of a 110-98 home loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night. Coach Jason Kidd preached effort during Thursday’s practice.

”I thought their intent, their energy, their focus and the carry-over to tonight was very good,” Kidd said.

The Clippers shot 56 percent from the field, but 11 steals by the Bucks made any comeback effort difficult for Chris Paul and his crew. Paul finished with 21 points for LA, fighting through a sore left thumb (torn ligament).

The Bucks have eased Khris Middleton into the starting lineup after returning from a torn hamstring about a month ago. He finished with 19 points and nine assists, and plans to start Saturday night when Milwaukee hosts the Toronto Raptors.

Ugly first half dooms Milwaukee in a 110-98 loss to Denver

Playing with what coach Jason Kidd would later call a lack of urgency, the Milwaukee Bucks fell 110-98 to the Denver Nuggets last night, their third loss in the last four games.

“In our locker room right now we don’t understand the urgency…of what we’re fighting for, and that’s a playoff spot,” Kidd said. “We don’t have that many games left. Our energy and effort has to be high.”

It was anything but as the Nuggets outscored Milwaukee 32-15 in the first quarter and held a 26-point lead at the half. Denver pushed that lead to as much as 31 in the third quarter before the Bucks battled back, but they could get no closer than 12 down the stretch.

Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee with 21 points off the bench, while rookie Malcom Brogdon added 17 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 15 points and nine rebounds.

Denver’s Nikola Jokic recorded his second straight triple-double with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

The loss dropped Milwaukee two games back of Detroit for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks (26-33) will host the Los Angeles Clippers (36-24) on Friday night.

Bucks fall to Cavs for third straight time in season series

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks gave Khris Middleton the night off, while LeBron James returned from strep throat to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 102-95 victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

It was an uncharacteristic performance from Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who logged just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. Rookie Malcolm Brogdon led Milwaukee with 20 points and five assists off the bench.

The Cavaliers are 0-4 this season when James misses a game, including a 117-99 home loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.  But although James wasn’t feeling 100 percent, his 24 points in a team-high 37 minutes helped carry Cleveland past Milwaukee, which was coming off a home win Sunday afternoon over the Phoenix Suns. The Bucks are now 4-7 this season in road finales in back-to-backs.

In the first half, Bucks forward Michael Beasley suffered a left knee injury, initially called a sprain. He wasn’t able to return to the game and was seen on crutches later on in the night.

”We’ll see how he is,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ”Hopefully it’s not bad where he can get back because he’s playing at a very high level for us.”

The Bucks were out-rebounded 45-33, but were given plenty of chances in the form of 16 Cavalier turnovers. Milwaukee hosts Denver on Wednesday night.

Clutch Snell seals Bucks win over Suns

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Bucks guard Tony Snell went up for a shot with 8.3 seconds remaining, draining the three-point attempt to give Milwaukee a 100-96 win over the Phoenix Suns.

The play was set up by an in-bounds pass from Greg Monroe to Giannis Antetokounmppo, who killed some clock before passing to Malcolm Brogdon, who then eventually found Snell wide open. Milwaukee was nursing a one-point lead with 29.1 seconds remaining.

”It was a great read by Giannis to be patient and to understand what was about to take place,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ”He read the situation and there was a lot of trust. He made a pass to Malcolm, who could have shot it, but he made the extra pass and Tony ended up with the open shot.”

There were no harsh criticisms on social media for Snell, who logged a near NBA record zero points, rebounds, assists, or steals in 28 minutes of play during Friday’s loss to the Utah Jazz. This time, he was a main contributor, pouring in 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, while adding three rebounds and two assists.

Antetokounmpo recorded a game-high 28 points, while Brogdon added 15 points and seven assists. Milwaukee overcame a rebounding deficit of 42-33 in favor of Phoenix, which now drops its fourth consecutive game to Milwaukee and 12th over the last 15.

Antetokounmpo’s 33 not enough in loss to Jazz

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks headed into the All Star break riding a three-game winning streak, but the momentum was snapped by the Utah Jazz in a 109-95 loss at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 33 points, along with 12 rebounds and five steals, but the only other Milwaukee player to show up was Michael Beasley, who recorded 22 points and six rebounds.

“Blame it on the [All Star] break,” Beasley told reporters after the loss. “Just got to figure it out and fix some things on the defensive side. Offense, we didn’t have a lot of assists. 15 assists? That’s not going to get it done for us.”

But it wasn’t like Milwaukee didn’t have control of the game at one point. The Bucks started the game on an 11-3 run, until the Jazz took control, ending the first quarter on a 33-16 run. That early lead was the only one Milwaukee would have the rest of the night.