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.

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.

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.

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.

Report: Khris Middleton could return from injury ahead of schedule

MILWAUKEE — While Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton recovers from a torn hamstring suffered in the preseason, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com reports he could return after the All-Star break in mid-February.

Middleton underwent surgery in September and was initially ruled out for the remainder of the 2016-17 season, but Middleton told Aschburner that there’s a possibility he returns as long as he doesn’t suffer any setbacks in his recovery.

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

Middleton signed a five-year, $70 million contract last season where he averaged 18.2 points per game and 39.6 percent shooting from three-point range.