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.

31 from Giannis not good enough, Bucks fall in their opener to Charlotte

A season filled with promise got off to a rough start for the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, as the Charlotte Hornets jumped on the home team early and got out of town with a 107-96 victory.

“We didn’t play hard tonight,” coach Jason Kidd said afterwards. “They played harder than we did. You take away all the shots and just look at all the 50-50 balls, they got them all.

“We got to win that battle to have any chance to win.”

Milwaukee trailed by 15 at the half and never really made a push in the season opener for both teams. The Bucks managed to shoot just 18.8 percent (3 of 16) from beyond the arc, and 42.4 percent from the field.

They were paced offensively by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists. It was the third-highest scoring output of his career, and while Kidd praised the fourth-year pro’s game, Antetokounmpo cared very little about what he was able to do.

“It’s not about me,” Antetokounmpo said. “I’m just going to say I’m not happy. We all wanted to start this season with a win, so I’m not going to think about what I did today.”

Milwaukee got 14 points and 10 rebounds from center Greg Monroe, while forward Jabari Parker had 13 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes of action.

Charlotte got the win on the back of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who scored 23 points while grabbing 14 rebounds.

The Bucks will be back in action on Saturday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, as the Brooklyn Nets come to town.

Notes:

— Former Wisconsin center Frank Kaminsky didn’t play in the game due to a foot sprain

— Milwaukee first-round draft pick Thon Maker was one of just two players that didn’t get into the game for the Bucks

— Second-round pick Malcom Brogdon scored 8 points and dished out five assists in his debut in a Bucks uniform.

Pistons blow past Bucks 102-78

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — For the third straight game, the Milwaukee Bucks allowed an opponent to go on a run, falling to the Detroit Pistons 102-78 Monday night.

The Bucks won their first two preseason games, but have lost each of their last three. The difference? Defense. Opponents have gone on runs of 41-6, 37-7, and last night 37-8.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker had strong showings in the first half, finishing with 21 and 18 points, respectively. They didn’t get much help elsewhere, getting outscored in the second half 62-30.

Greg Monroe added 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench, while the Pistons were paced by 23 points courtesy of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Michael Beasley (sprained right elbow), Khris Middleton (torn hamstring), Tony Snell (sprained left ankle), Jason Terry (sprained right ankle), and Rashad Vaughn (sprained left ankle) were all inactive for Milwaukee Monday night.

Parker powers Bucks past Mavs 88-74

MADISON, Wis. — The Dallas Mavericks were without Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris, so Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker took advantage with 21 points in an 88-74 preseason victory at the Kohl Center in Madison Saturday night.

Parker led the game in scoring, adding six rebounds and a number of dunks in his effort. Next in scoring for Milwaukee was Greg Monroe, who was seen by many as a trade piece this offseason. He converted on all four of his free throw attempts and created four Mavericks turnovers.

“[Parker is] a very talented scorer,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said after the win. “When he gets out on the break, he’s as good as anyone at finishing and he showed that tonight. I thought he let the game come to him, he didn’t force anything.”

The Bucks didn’t get much from Michael Carter-Williams, however, following reports the Sacramento Kings had nixed a trade in exchange for Ben McLemore. MCW tallied just three points on 1-for-8 shooting in 22 minutes of action. He also generated just one assist.

Rookie Thon Maker made his preseason debut following a wrist injury to log nine points and four rebounds on 3-of-6 shooting. Maker recalled making his first shot following the game.

 

The Mavericks were paced by Dwight Powell’s 15 points, converting on 6-of-8 from the floor.

Monroe leads Bucks to preseason win over Bulls

CHICAGO — The Milwaukee Bucks got 15 points from backup center Greg Monroe in a 93-91 preseason win over the Chicago Bulls Monday night.

Monroe led all scorers in the game, despite playing 17 minutes off the bench. It wasn’t  a new role for Monroe, who was relived of his duties as a full-time starter in the last half of the 2015-16 season. There had been rumors all offseason that Monroe could potentially be traded after the Bucks regressed from their surprise 41-41 season in 2014-15.

Michael Carter-Williams was also involved in some trade rumors, but played like the former Rookie of the Year coach Jason Kidd traded for during the playoff run two years ago. He was one of just two players in last night’s game to record a double double, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Taj Gibson was the other, giving Chicago 11 points and 12 rebounds.

The Bulls eased newcomer Dwyane Wade into game action, limiting him to 12 minutes where he added six points and recorded two steals. Milwaukee was one of many teams to pursue Wade in the offseason, hoping they could bring the 12-time All Star back to where he played his college days at Marquette University.

The Bucks are fresh off a week of training camp held at the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison and return to the state capital on Saturday night for the next preseason game against the Dallas Mavericks at 7:30 p.m.

Report: Bucks could deal Monroe, MCW

MILWAUKEE — The injury to Khris Middleton has made the Bucks’ shooting woes an even bigger priority and league officials claim Milwaukee is looking to deal Greg Monroe and/or Michael Carter-Williams.

Middleton was easily Milwaukee’s best shooter in 2015 at a clip of 39.6 percent. The Racine Journal TImes now reports Charlotte’s Jeremy Lamb may be a trade target, with Milwaukee shipping Monroe over to the Hornets. It’s far from a done deal, but Milwaukee could use Lamb’s 44 percent field goal percentage from a season ago, along with his 8.8 points off the bench.

In addition, the Bucks would receive Spencer Hawes in that deal. A replacement for Monroe, Hawes brings a 7-foot-1 body to the fold, as well as a career 8.9 points per game and an NBA pedigree. He’s the nephew of retired Hawks center Steve Hawes.

Last week, the Bucks said their plan was to use a timeshare to fill the void left by the Middleton injury. Coach Jason Kidd added that the initial plan is to use Monroe and MCW off the bench this upcoming season, but that their roles are not set in stone and will be further assessed after the preseason.