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.

Bucks hold off Clippers to move into seventh place

LOS ANGELES — The Milwaukee Bucks avoided a late-game collapse to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 97-96 Wednesday night and move into seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Milwaukee used a 30-point fourth quarter to stay ahead of Los Angeles, while Blake Griffin’s last-second shot missed the mark. Clippers coach Doc Rivers didn’t place the blame on Griffin for missing the shot.

“We just couldn’t get multiple stops,” Rivers said. “We got a couple stops because we cut the lead, but I just thought we failed to get big stops.”

Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks with 16 points apiece, but it was likely the late three-pointer from Matthew Dellavedova that was the final nail in the coffin. The dagger put Milwaukee up 97-91 with 1:17 remaining in regulation. Milwaukee’s ability to keep Los Angeles off the three-point line was also crucial, as the Clippers made just five of their 24 (20.8 percent) three-point attempts.

The Bucks remain in Los Angeles for Friday night’s contest with the Lakers, scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. CT.

Bucks chasing down slim playoff chances

LOS ANGELES — When the Milwaukee Bucks visit the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night, they’ll do so with slim odds of making the postseason.

FiveThirtyEight.com projects the Bucks to finish with a 39-43 record, good enough for 10th place in the Eastern Conference and two spots out of the playoff spot. That translates to a 37 percent chance of making the postseason, but with just a 24 percent probability of beating the Clippers, those odds may dwindle further on this six-game road trip.

The Bucks had won six in a row heading into Memphis Monday night, but failed to capitalize on what should have been a very winnable game. With 11 of their remaining 16 games on the road, Milwaukee will have to improve on its road record of 12-18 (.400) if it wants to make the postseason for the second time in three years. Six of Milwaukee’s remaining games come against teams with winning records.

The preseason hamstring injury to Khris Middleton severely hampered the Bucks’ three-point shooting, but Milwaukee’s luck got even worse once Middleton returned prior to the All Star break. One has to wonder how Jabari Parker’s second ACL tear affects the team and where it may have been had Parker stayed healthy.

Milwaukee’s playoff chances peaked on Jan. 4 when it was 18-16, following a 105-104 win over the New York Knicks. FiveThirtyEight.com gave the Bucks a 1541 rating, which was slightly above the average rating of 1500.

With a tough schedule remaining and down a key player, will the Bucks pack it in and try better next year? If they miss the playoffs, will people give coach Jason Kidd a pass or hold him accountable?

 

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.

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.