Turnovers, poor shooting hurt Milwaukee in Game 4 loss to Toronto

With their season seemingly on the line, the Toronto Raptors responded with an 87-76 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series on Saturday.

After not making a field goal in a blowout loss in Game 3 on Thursday night, Toronto All-Star DeMar DeRozan was the best player on the court, scoring 33 points, grabbing nine rebounds, handing out five assists and collecting four steals.

But Milwaukee didn’t lose the game on the defensive end. The series is tied at two games apiece because the Bucks couldn’t take care of the ball and couldn’t make a shot. Coach Jason Kidd’s team turned the ball over 20 times, including seven by Giannis Antetokounmpo, while shooting just 37 percent from the field and 23.8 percent from beyond the arc.

Antetokounmpo had a series-low 14 points, while guard Khris Middleton could manage just 10 points on 4 of 13 shooting. Defensive specialist Tony Snell led the team with 19 points, including hitting all five of Milwaukee’s 3-pointers.

The loss gives Toronto home-court advantage back as the series now because a best-of-three, starting with Game 5 on Monday at the Air Canada Centre.

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.

Milwaukee takes out Detroit 108-105 in overtime

The Milwaukee Bucks closed out the month of March in style, overcoming a fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Detroit Pistons 108-105 in overtime on Friday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and handed out nine assists, while Khris Middleton added 25 points. But it was the play of rookie Thon Maker that had everyone talking following a career-high 23 points from the first-round pick.

“Unbelievable,” Antetokounmpo said of the 7-foot-1 Maker. “The way he plays. The way he practices. The way he learns. The way he gets better every day. It’s unbelievable.”

Milwaukee led by as many as 17 points in the first quarter only to see the Pistons claw away and eventually retake the lead in the third quarter. Detroit built on that advantage and led by 10 with 4:58 remaining in the game. That’s when Antetokounmpo took charge, scoring 10 of Milwaukee’s next 12 points to help the game get to overtime tied at 95.

In the extra period, it was a pair of big 3-pointers that got Milwaukee across the line for the win. First, Maker drilled one with 1:58 left to take a three-point lead. Maker had some motivation to take – and make – the shot courtesy of Antetokounmpo.

“If you hesitate, I’m going to punch you,” Antetokounmpo told Fox Sports Wisconsin of his message for Maker. “So shoot the ball whenever you get it.”

The shot was big, but his offensive rebound less than a minute later proved to be the dagger the Bucks needed, as his tip out off a missed shot ended up in the hands of Middleton, who drilled the 3-pointer.

It was win No. 14 in the month of March, the most in a single month for the franchise since 1971, and it gave them the No. 5 playoff spot to themselves with just seven games remaining.

Milwaukee will take on Oklahoma City on Sunday afternoon at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Tony Snell’s 26 points lead Bucks over Hornets

CHARLOTTE — Tony Snell scored a season-high 26 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks past the Charlotte Hornets Tuesday night 118-108, maintaining Milwaukee’s position in the playoff race.

Snell’s 26 points came on 10-of-14 shooting and was backed up by 14 points and 10 rebounds by rookie Malcolm Brogdon. But their efforts were opened up by the combined 34 points from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

”It’s a credit to Giannis and Khris [Middleton],” Snell said. ”They draw a lot of attention and there was good ball movement. It was a good night.”

Milwaukee never trailed in the contest — one where the Bucks held an edge in nearly every statistical category aside from turnovers. They lost that battle 14-2. Milwaukee’s efficiency from the field (62.2 percent shooting) forced Charlotte to play from behind, where their three-point attempts were converted at a clip of just 25 percent (7-of-28).

The win not only allowed Milwaukee to hold onto a tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings with eight games to play, but it secured a series win over Charlotte for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.

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.

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.

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.

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.