Bucks cruise to a 104-77 win over the Raptors in Game 3

Game 3 was no contest for the sixth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, as they rolled over the third-seeded Toronto Raptors 104-77 Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

From the opening tip the crowd inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center was roaring, and the Bucks responded in kind, outscoring the Raptors 57-30 in the first half on the way to their biggest margin of victory in a playoff game since 1984.

“We know they’re going to come back on Saturday afternoon ready, just like after (losing) game one,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of the Raptors. “Bu I thought the guys did everything we’ve prepared them to do. Defense is what we’ve always concentrated on and sharing the ball on the offensive end. The guys did that.”

Guard Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee, scoring 20 points and handing out seven assists, while forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points and eight rebounds. Center Greg Monroe added 16 points off the bench for a Milwaukee squad that shot 52.7 percent from the field and 52.2 percent from beyond the arc.

As good as the Bucks were on offense, they were just as good, if not better, on the other end of the court. They limited the Raptors All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozen to 21 combined points on 4 of 18 shooting, including the latter going 0 of 8, the first time he’s been held without a field goal in his playoff career.

The win gave Milwaukee its first 2-1 lead in a playoff series since 2001.

Game 4 is set for Saturday in Milwaukee. Tip time is at 2 p.m.

Bucks continue to roll, beat Sacramento 116-98

Milwaukee continued its move up in the Eastern Conference playoff picture Wednesday night with a 116-98 win at Sacramento.

The game was the final one in a six-game road trip that the Bucks finished 4-2 on, leaving them tied for the No. 6 spot with Indiana and just a game back of the five-seed Atlanta with 11 games to go.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated a listless Kings squad, scoring a game-high 32 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out six assists as the Bucks won for a 10th time in their last 12 games.

Center Greg Monroe added 15 points and five rebounds off the bench, while Khris Middleton and Mirza Teletovic scored 13 points each.

Sacramento was paced by rookie Buddy Hield’s 21 points.

Milwaukee will now head back home to face Atlanta on Friday night, followed by a visit from the Chicago Bulls. Both teams are, like the Bucks, fighting for the final few playoff spots in the East.

Three ejected as Bucks beat Lakers 107-103

LOS ANGELES — Greg Monroe, D’Angelo Russell, and Nick Young were all ejected during a third quarter scuffle, but the Milwaukee Bucks held on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 107-103.

In the third quarter, Nick Young responded to being fouled harder than he thought appropriate by shoving Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon. Greg Monroe defended his teammate by shoving Young, which got L.A.’s D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram involved. A Bucks security guard also got involved, which didn’t sit well with Lakers coach Luke Walton.

”If there’s nothing wrong with that, then I have no problem finding some people to hire on our staff  next time we get in a skirmish,” Walton said. ”The refs don’t say anything about that, and he puts his hands on one of our players. He works for them. He can touch [Milwaukee’s] players all he wants. Don’t touch my damn players. Because if that’s okay, I’m sure we can find a couple of people here in L.A. that want that job working for the Lakers, too.”

That exchange allowed the Lakers to go on a late run, but Khris Middleton scored 14 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to keep the Bucks out in front for their eighth win in nine games and solidify their spot in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee has now evened up its record at 34-34 with a chance to earn its second winning season in 14 years. The win officially knocked the Lakers out of playoff contention, extending their franchise-record-long drought to four seasons without a postseason appearance. Their previous drought lasted just two seasons.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Parker scores 31 as the Bucks rout the Pistons 119-94

It was one of those nights for Jabari Parker and the Milwaukee Bucks.

The former No. 2 overall pick shot 72 percent from the field on his way to 31 points, as Milwaukee routed Detroit 119-94 on Wednesday night.

“His confidence is high,” coach Jason Kidd said of Parker, who has now scored at least 20 points in six of the Bucks’ last eight games. “He’s playing extremely well for us and we need him to play like he did tonight.”

It wasn’t just Parker’s scoring, though, he also dished out a season-high seven assists to go along with nine rebounds.

“Everybody is going to look at his points, but I thought his total game (was good),” Kidd said. “Being able to find guys, get guys open, and then on the defensive end, I thought he did a really good job.”

Milwaukee led by 15 entering the fourth quarter, and the Pistons never really threatened to make a game of it.

Guard Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 23 points and had eight assists, while center Greg Monroe scored 14 off the bench for the Bucks.

Milwaukee’s former first-round pick Tobias Harris led the way for the Pistons, scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

The win got the Bucks back to .500 on the season at 15-15. They’ll continue their four-game road trip tomorrow night when they visit Minnesota.