Clutch Brogdon gives Bucks 103-100 win over Celtics

BOSTON — The Milwaukee Bucks held off a Boston Celtics rally for a 103-100 win thanks to six key points down the stretch from rookie Malcolm Brogdon.

Brogdon finished the game with 16 points and nine rebounds, but none bigger than the contested shot he converted with just seconds remaining to seal the win for Milwaukee.

”Tonight the ball was in my hands at the end of the game,” Brogdon said. ”It takes a lot of character and will to win more than anything to have it in a rookie’s hands at the end of the game.”

Brogdon’s confidence is one of the reasons his play has put him in the conversation for Rookie of the Year. The 26-year-old Virginia product is averaging 10.3 points per game and shooting nearly 46 percent on the season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo added 22 points and nine rebounds, while Khris Middleton poured in 19 points. The win keeps Milwaukee in a tie with Atlanta for the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings with seven games to go. The Bucks have a two-game cushion in the playoff hunt and have won five of their last six, including the last four on the road.

Milwaukee returns home for a pair of games this weekend against the Pistons and Mavericks.

Bucks can’t overcome second quarter run in loss to Warriors

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors outscored the Milwaukee Bucks 36-15 in the second quarter to win the game 117-92.

Steph Curry paced the Warriors with 28 points, including eight three-pointers, while Klay Thompson followed that up with 21 points. As a team, the Warriors held a distinct advantage when it came to perimeter shooting, converting on 12-of-23 attempts (52.2 percent), while Milwaukee was just 9-of-27 (33.3 percent).

But the Bucks were tasked with playing from behind for much of the game, despite leading 17-5 in the game’s opening minutes. It didn’t help Milwaukee’s case that Golden State hoarded all the missed shots. The Warriors dominated the glass with 44 rebounds, compared to the Bucks’ 35.

It was the fourth game of a six-game road trip for the Bucks, who were led by Malcolm Brogdon’s 18 points. They’re now 2-2 over that stretch while trying to hold on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

”No excuses but we were fatigued,” Brogdon said. ”If your second game on a back-to-back is one of the best teams, it’s going to be tough. Fatigue definitely plays a factor but it’s not the reason we lost.”

The Bucks have Sunday and Monday off before returning Tuesday night to visit the Portland Trailblazers.

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.

Bucks fall to Cavs for third straight time in season series

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks gave Khris Middleton the night off, while LeBron James returned from strep throat to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 102-95 victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

It was an uncharacteristic performance from Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who logged just nine points on 4-of-13 shooting. Rookie Malcolm Brogdon led Milwaukee with 20 points and five assists off the bench.

The Cavaliers are 0-4 this season when James misses a game, including a 117-99 home loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.  But although James wasn’t feeling 100 percent, his 24 points in a team-high 37 minutes helped carry Cleveland past Milwaukee, which was coming off a home win Sunday afternoon over the Phoenix Suns. The Bucks are now 4-7 this season in road finales in back-to-backs.

In the first half, Bucks forward Michael Beasley suffered a left knee injury, initially called a sprain. He wasn’t able to return to the game and was seen on crutches later on in the night.

”We’ll see how he is,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. ”Hopefully it’s not bad where he can get back because he’s playing at a very high level for us.”

The Bucks were out-rebounded 45-33, but were given plenty of chances in the form of 16 Cavalier turnovers. Milwaukee hosts Denver on Wednesday night.

Bucks’ Antetokounmpo leads East with 30 in losing effort

NEW ORLEANS — The Eastern Conference All Stars fell to the Western Conference All Stars 192-182 Sunday night, but were led by 30 points from Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“Yeah, it was amazing. The experience was unbelievable,” Antetokounmpo said of his first All-Star experience. “I enjoyed; I hope all the fans enjoyed as much as I enjoyed.”

Antetokounmpo added six rebounds and three steals in the always offensive-minded All-Star Game. New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis took home MVP honors with a record 52-point performance for the West. Antetokounmpo joked that if he had played more than 22 minutes, he would have earned the award over Davis.

“I was this close to being an MVP but coach kicked me out, so no.”

Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon took part in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, logging three points, four rebounds, and five assists. That contest featured the league’s top first and second-year players.

Milwaukee remains off for the All Star Break until Friday when they host the Utah Jazz.