Giannis scores 33 as Milwaukee picks up their 3rd straight win

The Milwaukee Bucks hit the NBA All-Star break Wednesday night with a 129-125 victory at Brooklyn.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a team-high 33 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Bucks’ third-straight win.

“It feels great, man,” Antetokounmpo said afterwards. “We’re building momentum right now, so when we come back we’ve got to build on that momentum and keep playing hard.”

The win was far from easy, as Milwaukee saw a 13-point fourth-quarter lead nearly evaporate down the stretch, with the Nets getting to within two with 1:36 left in the game. But then guard Khris Middleton drilled a short jumper and closed things out by hitting four free throws in the final 30 seconds.

“Big time plays by Khris,” Antetokounmpo said. “Khris money, money, money.”

In just his fourth game since returning from a torn hamstring, Middleton scored 20 points and dished out a team-high seven assists in 26 minutes of action.

The Bucks also got 25 points off the bench from center Greg Monroe, which helped to offset a huge night for Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez, who scored 36 points and blocked eight shots.

The win gets Milwaukee to 25-30 at the break, leaving them one game behind Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Milwaukee will return to action a week from Friday when the Utah Jazz come to town.

Monroe leads Bucks past Pistons 102-89

MILWAUKEE — While Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was limited on offense, Greg Monroe picked up the slack in a 102-89 win over the Detroit Pistons Monday night.

Antetokounmpo was held to just eight points in 36 minutes of play, while Monroe came off the bench to provide a team-high 25 points, along with 13 rebounds. It was Milwaukee’s first win streak since Jan. 13 and the team’s second double-digit win since losing Jabari Parker to his second torn ACL to the same knee.

Michael Beasley supplemented Milwaukee’s offensive output with 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting, helping build the lead up to as many as 22 points.

”Those two guys crushed us. And then our offense was pathetic,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. ”It was just a miserable night all around.”

Defensively, Milwaukee made progress as well, holding an opponent under 100 points for the first time in 20 games.

Pistons rookie Henry Ellenson was inactive in his first return to Milwaukee since being drafted out of Marquette. He was the No. 18 overall selection by Detroit last summer.

Bucks bust out of slump for 116-100 win over Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS — The Milwaukee Bucks defense was more solid, while the offense was firing in a 116-100 win over the Indiana Pacers Saturday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo just missed out on a triple double, recording 20 points, 10 assists, and eight rebounds in the win. Milwaukee’s offense also woke up for a season-high 17 three-pointers.

Malcolm Brogdon, Greg Monroe, and Mirza Teletovic gave the Bucks some depth off the bench, each scoring in the double digits in points. Teletovic was 5-of-9 on three-point attempts, finishing with 19 points. Once Milwaukee got out of the first quarter, it never trailed the remainder of the game.

As a team, the Bucks shot 54.8 percent (17-of-31) from beyond the arc, while limiting their turnovers to just six (the Pacers had 14).

The Bucks host the Pistons Monday night before visiting the Nets entering the All-Star Break.

Antetokounmpo’s career-high 41 not enough in 122-114 loss to Lakers

MILWAUKEE — One day after learning forward Jabari Parker would be gone for the season (torn ACL), the Milwaukee Bucks couldn’t muster enough for a comeback, falling to the Los Angeles Lakers 122-114.

The night started off on the wrong foot, with Milwaukee allowing a season-high 47 points in the opening quarter. From there, the Bucks tried to battle back the rest of the night, eventually using a 14-0 fourth-quarter run to close the gap to five. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 41 points, adding eight rebounds and six assists in the loss.

”At the end of the day, you just want to win, especially against a team like the Lakers,” Antetokounmpo said. ”They aren’t a playoff team.”

Nick Young led the way for Los Angeles with 26 points, converting on the rare four-point play twice in one night.

”I was thinking, OK, this is one of them nights,” Young said.

It marked the 12th loss in 14 outings for the Bucks, with rookie Thon Maker replacing Parker in the lineup. Maker contributed seven points and six rebounds in 17 minutes of playing time. Khris Middleton came off the bench to play nearly 21 minutes, scoring six points on 2-of-7 shooting.

Middleton won’t make the trip to Indiana Saturday night when they visit the Pacers at 6 p.m.

Khris Middleton cleared to return from hamstring injury on Wednesday

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks have lost 10 of their last 11 games but will get a morale boost on Wednesday night with the return of Khris Middleton, who’s been recovering from a ruptured hamstring suffered in the preseason.

During the broadcast of Friday night’s 121-117 loss to the Denver Nuggets, Middleton told Fox Sports Wisconsin he’d been medically cleared to return to game action, having missed the first 50 games of the season. It was reported on Jan. 6 that Middleton could return prior to the All-Star break, initially thought to be an injury that would keep him out the entire season.

“It’s possible,” Middleton said last month in regard to a possible February return. “That’s if everything goes right, with no setbacks and a good, long stretch of practices. Still a long way to go but I’m working towards it.”

The fifth-year forward averaged 18.2 points, 4.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds last year. His return could not only provide another consistent scorer alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, but it could help Milwaukee claw its way back into the playoff picture, currently 2.5 games and three spots back from the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

It’s unclear exactly how much Middleton would play in his season debut. He’ll make his return Feb. 8 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee when they host the Miami Heat at 7 p.m.

Bucks fall 104-88 at Utah, their ninth loss in the last 10 games

The Milwaukee Bucks season continued its downward spiral Wednesday night with a 104-88 loss to Utah.

The game was essentially decided in the second quarter, when the Jazz outscored Milwaukee 31-16 to take an 18-point lead at the half, sending the Bucks on their way to a ninth loss in the last 10 games.

Despite facing a battered Utah team, Milwaukee had no answer for stars Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert, with the duo combining for 53 points, with Gobert also adding 15 rebounds.

That effort was in stark contrast to that of the Bucks big-time players — Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. In what was one of his worst performances of the season, Antetokounmpo had just nine points on 2 of 10 shooting in 39 minutes of action. Parker, meanwhile added 17 points and seven rebounds.

The loss left Milwaukee a season-high six games under .500 at 21-27. A short three-game road trip continues Friday night at Denver.

Rally falls short as Bucks fall to Celtics in overtime 112-108

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks closed a 69-53 gap late in the third quarter, but ultimately fell in overtime to the Boston Celtics Saturday night 112-108.

Greg Monroe scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, adding 13 rebounds in his role off the bench. Giannis Antetokounmpo gave the Bucks 21 hard-earned points, but Milwaukee couldn’t overcome a 42-27 score after the first quarter of action.

Isaiah Thomas provided 37 points for the Celtics, scoring at least 20 points for the 31st game in a row. Former Marquette standout Jae Crowder sealed the win for Boston with four clutch free throws in the final 28 seconds of overtime.

”It’s always special when I come here and we get a win,” Crowder said. ”I see a lot of familiar faces around the building, including the ushers, stuff like that. It’s always a great feeling to come back.”

Rookie Thon Maker got his second career start Saturday night, replacing Miles Plumlee and providing the team with four points and two rebounds in 10 minutes of action.

Milwaukee falters late, loses to Philadelphia 114-109

A brutal second quarter was too much for the Milwaukee Bucks to overcome Wednesday night, losing for the sixth time in their seven games, this time a 114-109 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Milwaukee led by six after the first quarter, but were outscored 39-19 in the second, and trailed 72-58 at the break.

“One thing, we’re young. This is growing pains,” coach Jason Kidd said. “This is the understanding of patience and understanding in the first half you can’t give up 72 points to have any chance to win.”

But that’s exactly what Milwaukee did have a chance to do, even taking a lead midway through the fourth quarter. Over the final 5:56 of the game, there were 14 ties or lead changes, with Philadelphia finally gaining the upper hand for good with a pair of Nerlens Noel free throws, and then a jumper from Noel after a turnover by Greg Monroe.

The loss came two days after the Bucks beat Houston — a team with the third-best record in the Western Conference — and it saw them fall to 21-24 on the year.

“It’s very frustrating,” Monroe said of the up and down nature of the team. “We just have to be more consistent. Play with the same focus as Monday when we were locked in and focused on both ends. (Wednesday night) we didn’t bring that. We have to get to playing, on a nightly basis, like we played Monday against the Rockets.”

Monroe scored a season-high 28 points, while Jabari Parker added 20 and Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Milwaukee will now head to Toronto on Friday night, the first of what will be four road games in their next five contests.

Milwaukee snaps its five-game losing streak with a 127-114 win over Houston

The streak is over.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker combined for 59 points to help Milwaukee outgun Houston 127-114 to snap a five-game losing streak on Monday night.

The Bucks led nearly the entire way but had to fight in the fourth quarter to pay back the Rockets for a blowout loss last week on the road. Houston took a 95-93 lead with 10:15 left in the game, but after a Milwaukee timeout, rookie Malcom Brogdon’s two free throws tied the game up and later he assisted on Jason Terry’s 16-foot jumper to take a 101-99 lead — a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Milwaukee went 10 of 17 from the field in the fourth quarter, and for the game shot a season-high 58.8 percent. That included a very efficient 11 of 19 performance from Parker, who after coming off the bench against the Heat due to violating team policy, scored 28 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists.

Antetokounmpo was also good on the offensive end, scoring 31 points, his 10th game of 30 or more this season. He capped the game off with a deep 3-pointer, then did a shoulder shimmy reminiscent of the same one James Harden did toward the end of Houston’s victory over Milwaukee on Friday night.

Chants of M-V-P broke out inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center aimed at Antetokounmpo, and though that might be the case in the future, the real MVP candidate this season is Harden, and he did nothing to damage that, nearly producing a triple-double. Named an All-Star starter last week, Harden dropped 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.

The game also served as a homecoming for former Wisconsin star Sam Dekker. The 2015 first-round pick, who was coming of a career-high 30 points his last time out, managed just four points on 2 of 7 shooting in his first trip back.

Milwaukee improved to 21-23 on the season and will host Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Giannis scores 32, but Houston takes out Milwaukee 111-92

The Milwaukee Bucks had no answer for James Harden and Eric Gordon on Wednesday night in a 111-92 win for Houston.

Harden and Gordon combined for 63 points, getting a lot that from beyond the arc, where the duo hit 11 of the Rockets 14 3-pointers on the night.

That effort overshadowed another impressive outing for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 32 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. He was never better than a stretch in the third quarter where the Bucks trimmed a 13-point deficit to just five. In a string of possessions, Giannis blocked a shot, got a layup, ran the break for another layup and an and-1 and then drilled a 3-pointer to finish off a personal 8-0 run.

But the fourth-year pro could get the Bucks no closer, and he managed just two points and one rebound in the fourth quarter as a barrage of 3-pointers from the Rockets sank Milwaukee, handing them their third-straight loss.

Jabari Parker had 15 points and and seven boards, while former Rockets forward Michael Beasley added 14 points and eight rebounds.

Former Wisconsin star Sam Dekker scored five points and grabbed five boards in 24 minutes for Houston.

The loss dropped Milwaukee to 20-21 on the year. The Bucks will be at Orlando on Friday night.