Bucks take 3-1 series lead on Orlando with 121-106 win

The Milwaukee Bucks are one victory away from moving on to the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a team-high 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as the Bucks used a quick start to the fourth quarter to earn a 121-106 win over Orlando on Monday afternoon. It gave Milwaukee a 3-1 series lead in the best-of-seven series.

Milwaukee led just 84-81 heading into the final period, but used a 19-2 run to start the period to seemingly pull away. The Magic weren’t done, though, climbing back to within seven before the Bucks finally put the finishing touches on the afternoon.

Khris Middleton added 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Wes Matthews had 12 points and Brook Lopez 10. Milwaukee also got strong contribution from the bench, with George Hill scoring nine points and dishing out six assists. Kyle Korver added 10 points.

The Magic were once again led by Nikola Vucevic. The big center had 31 points and 11 rebounds. Terrance Ross had 19 points off the bench.

Milwaukee will try to close the series out Wednesday afternoon in Orlando.

Giannis scores 35 in Bucks’ Game 3 win in Orlando

The Milwaukee Bucks built on a largely dominant Game 2 victory by being even more dominant in a 121-107 win against Orlando Saturday afternoon in the NBA bubble.

Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t miss a shot in the first half (8-for-8) as his team built a 27-point halftime lead. Milwaukee would eventually lead by as many as 34 in the second half before the Magic made the score look closer than it really was. Antetokounmpo finished with 35 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as the Bucks took a 2-1 series lead.

Three other Bucks starters scored in double figures, including Khris Middleton, who had 17 after a 2-point effort in Game 2. He also had the highest plus/minus of anyone as Milwaukee was 30 points better than Orlando when Middleton was on the court.

The Bucks were deadly from the field, shooting 56.1 percent overall and hitting on 45.9 percent (17-for-37) of their 3-pointers. That included the starters going 12-for-23.

Milwaukee did a better job against center Nikola Vucevic, holding him to 20 points and just 2 of 8 from beyond the arc. He had scored 67 points in the first two games combined. DJ Augustin led the Magic with 24 points off the bench, while Terrance Ross chipped in 20.

A pair of players — Milwaukee’s Marvin Williams and Orlando’s James Ennis III — were ejected in the first half after getting into a shoving match.

Game 4 between the two clubs is set for Monday afternoon.

Bucks bounce back with Game 2 win over Orlando

That’s more like it.

Two days after getting outplayed and embarrassed in Game 1 of their playoff series against Orlando, the Milwaukee Bucks bounced back with a 111-96 win Thursday night in the NBA bubble.

Giannis Antetokounmpo became just the second player in team history to have at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a playoff game, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who did it 18 times with the Bucks. Antetokounmpo finished with 28 points, 20 rebounds and five assists to help Milwaukee tie the series 1-1.

The bench mob came up big, too, as Pat Connaughton went off from the outside. The guard went 5-for-8 on 3-pointers, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Donte DiVincenzo chipped in 11 points, while Kyle Korver had nine points. George Hill was solid again and Milwaukee was +11 with him in the game.

In Game 1, the Bucks allowed Orlando to shoot nearly 50-percent from the field. But they got back to their defensive ways Thursday, allowing the Magic to hit just 34.8 percent of their shots overall and only 21.2 percent from beyond the arc. Orlando scored just 13 points in the first quarter after scoring at least 29 in every quarter in the first game. It allowed Milwaukee to lead by 21 at the half.

Things tightened up in the fourth quarter, with Orlando getting the lead all the way down to nine before Antetokounmpo finished a dunk and Brook Lopez hit a 3-pointer to essentially put the game away. Lopez finished with 20 points, including going 4-for-8 on 3-pointers.

The Magic got another big night from Nikola Vucevic. He scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. The center has now scored 67 points through the first two games of the series. However, he was the only Orlando player to score more than 12 points on the night.

One concern for Milwaukee has to be Khris Middleton. The two-time All-Star scored a season-low two points on 1-of-8 shooting. He’s now 5-for-20 in the series.

The Bucks will look to take control of the series on Saturday in Game 3. Tip is set for noon.

Bucks dominated in Game 1 loss to Orlando

The Milwaukee Bucks swept their first round opponent in the 2019 NBA playoffs. That won’t be happening this time around.

Milwaukee was upended by Orlando in the Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs 122-110 on Tuesday in the NBA bubble.

The Bucks fell behind by as many as 18 in the first half and by 13 heading into the fourth quarter. They got within eight in the final period but could never get over the hump as the Magic shot 49.4 percent from the floor and 39.0 percent on 3-pointers.

Giannis Antetokounmpo performed well enough at the offensive end, scoring 31 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. But Milwaukee got very little help from anyone else as it lost for a sixth time in its last nine games in the bubble. Fellow All-Star Khris Middleton had just 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting, while center Brook Lopez scored only five points and didn’t make a 3-pointer (0 of 4).

Off the bench, George Hill added 16 points, but no one else had more than six.

Orlando was playing without forward Aaron Gordon and guard Michael Carter-Williams, but it didn’t matter. The Magic got almost any shot they wanted, with center Nikola Vucevic going off for 35 points and 13 rebounds. Orlando starters 15 of its 16 3-pointers.

Milwaukee becomes the first No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference to lose its opening playoff game since Boston back in 2017. The Celtics actually ended up losing the first two games to Chicago before ripping off four straight to take the series in six games.

The Bucks and Magic will meet again on Thursday.

Bucks fall 119-106 to Memphis in final restart game

The Memphis Grizzlies needed a win Thursday and it looked like it, while the Milwaukee Bucks had nothing to play for and it looked like it.

Those two opposites led to a 119-106 win by the Grizzlies in the final game of the NBA restart in Orlando, handing them a spot in the play-in game for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Milwaukee, meanwhile, wrapped up the No. 1 seed earlier this month and were just playing out the string before the playoffs get underway next week. The Bucks did it on Thursday without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was suspended following his head butt of Washington’s Mo Wagner on Tuesday night.

The Grizzlies led by 10 at halftime and 19 after three quarters. Two of their players — Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas — finished with triple doubles. Morant finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, while Valanciunas had 26 points 19 rebounds and 12 assists. Dillon Brooks led the way on the scoring front for Memphis with 31 points.

For the Bucks, no regular starter played more than 21 minutes, with Antetokounmpo and Wesley Matthews being out. Brook Lopez still led the team with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Khris Middleton finished with 14 points.

Frank Mason III came off the bench to score 18 points and Donte DiVincenzo had 17.

Milwaukee finished the eight restart games just 3-5. Now it’s playoff time and the Bucks will face Orlando in the first round.

Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo suspended for one game

Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss Thursday’s game against Memphis.

The NBA announced Wednesday that the Milwaukee Bucks star had been suspended for one game after head butting Washington’s Mo Wagner during Tuesday night’s game.

The suspension means Antetokounmpo won’t miss any playoff games.

Milwaukee will close out the seeding portion of the NBA restart against the Grizzlies. So far, the Bucks are 3-4 in the bubble in Orlando, but will be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference when the playoffs begin next week.

Giannis ejected after head-butting incident, Bucks top Wizards

Giannis Antetokounmpo missed Monday’s game against Toronto following oral surgery. The Milwaukee Bucks star suited up for Tuesday’s matchup against Washington but didn’t last long.

Antetokounmpo was thrown out of the game in the second quarter after head-butting Moe Wagner.

The incident came after Antetokounmpo was called or an offensive foul when he tried to drive through Wagner. The two started talking once the play stopped and eventually Antetokounmpo dropped his forehead into the side of Wagner’s head. The former Michigan product sold the hit well and Antetokounmpo was hit with a Flagrant 2 and ejected.

Prior to the incident, Wager put Antetokounmpo on the ground while trying to box him out.

“Terrible action. If I could go back, turn back time, go back to that play I wouldn’t do it,” Antetokounmpo said afterwards. “At the end of the day, we’re all human and make mistakes. I think I’ve done a great job all year, in my career, of keeping my composure and focus on the game. But at the end of the day, as I said, we’re human, we make mistakes.”

Antetokounmpo said his outburst had very little to do with Wagner. Instead it was the result of pent up frustration from the entire season.

“I think it was just a whole build up of dirty plays in my mind. Guys tripping me, guys falling in front of my feet, pulling me, hitting me and all that,” Antetokounmpo said. “In my mind, all these games I’ve played guys hitting me, so I lost it for a second.”

It’s unclear if he could face further punishment. The Bucks have one more seeding game before the playoffs start, so they have a bit of a buffer if Antetokounmpo is suspended.

As for the game, Milwaukee beat the Wizards 126-113. Playing without Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Wesley Matthews, the Bucks got 24 points from Brook Lopez and 23 from Sterling Brown off the bench.

Before exiting, Antetokounmpo had 12 points and nine rebounds in just 10 minutes of action.

The win improved their record in the bubble to 3-4. They’ll close out the seeding games on Thursday against Memphis.

Giannis-less Bucks lose 114-106 to Toronto

For the fourth time in six games the Milwaukee Bucks fell in the NBA bubble in Orlando, this time a 114-106 setback to the Toronto Raptors.

Playing without star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sat out following oral surgery, the Bucks fell behind by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter before making a late run to soften the blow of the final score.

It was largely a listless performance on both ends of the floor. Milwaukee, which came into the night averaging 15 turnovers per game, turned it over 19 times on Monday. When the Bucks actually got a shot off, they struggled to hit anything. They ended up shooting 39.8 percent from the floor, just the fourth time all year they’ve shot under 40 percent.

At the other end, the Bucks defense allowed the Raptors to shoot 52 percent from inside the 3-point line. Chris Boucher had a season-high 25 points after scoring a total of 10 in the first four games in the bubble combined. Matt Thomas, who played his prep basketball in Onalaska, Wis., dropped 22 points, much of it coming on four 3-pointers.

Milwaukee fell to 5-4 in games this season that Antetokounmpo doesn’t play, though it should be noted that Toronto was playing with All-Star guard Kyle Lowery, as well as guard Fred VanVleet.

The Bucks were paced offensively by Kyle Korver’s 19 points (5-for-6 on 3-pointers), while Khris Middleton chipped in 17 and George Hill had 14.

Milwaukee has now lost eight of its last 11 games dating back to March. The Bucks will face Washington on Tuesday night in seventh of their eight seeding games.

Bucks erase 23-point deficit, beat Miami to claim top seed in the East

Milwaukee will be the top seed in the Eastern Conference for a second-straight season.

The Bucks overcame a 23-point deficit to beat Miami 130-116 on Thursday afternoon in the NBA bubble in Orlando.

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 33 points and 12 rebounds, while Khris Middleton had 33 points and eight assists. Milwaukee got 17 points and four rebounds from Brook Lopez, while Pat Connaughton had 11 points off the bench.

The Heat had a 63-40 lead over the Bucks when Duncan Robinson hit a 3-pointer with 4:43 left in the second quarter. Milwaukee was able stabilize things but still trailed by 17 at the break. In the third quarter, though, the Bucks made a run, outscoring the Heat 36-25. It was even better in the final period, as Milwaukee was plus-20 in the fourth quarter on its way to a win.

Playing with its entire team for the first time in the NBA bubble, Milwaukee got 9 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals from guard Eric Bledsoe, while guard Wes Matthews added 9 points. Guard George Hill had 9 points and 6 assists off the bench for the Bucks.

Robison had a team-high 21 for the Heat, while Milwaukee product Tyler Herro chipped in 20 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

The win moved Milwaukee to 55-14 on the year and clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks also improved to 2-2 in the bubble and will face the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.

Huge night for Giannis not enough in sloppy loss to Houston

Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 36 points and 18 rebounds but it wasn’t enough in a 120-116 loss to Houston Sunday night in Orlando.

The Rockets closed the game on a 16-4 run as Milwaukee came up short in its attempt to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the second straight season.

Trailing by one with 14 seconds left, Antetokounmpo had a chance to retake the lead. He drove to the rim and appeared to have a good look at the basket but instead fired a pass intended for Kyle Korver that Houston’s Danuel House intercepted. It was the last of the Bucks 22 turnovers, which was tied for the third-most in a game this season.

Playing without Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton as they work their way back into shape following positive COVID-19 tests in early July, the Bucks struggled to slow the Rockets backcourt of Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The All-Star duo combined for 55 points and 15 assists, while Harden also grabbed six steals.

Houston took 61 3-pointers and made 21 of them, as every player hit at least one. That was one off for the most 3-pointers hit by a Bucks opponent this season. The Rockets shot eight more free throws and turned the ball over just nine times.

Milwaukee’s other star — Khris Middleton — had 27 points and 12 rebounds, while Brook Lopez took advantage of a small Houston team to score 23 points and grab 12 boards.

The Bucks still own a 6-game lead on Toronto for the top seed in the East and a 3-game advantage on the Los Angeles Lakers for the top overall record.

Milwaukee will return to action Tuesday afternoon against Brooklyn.