Jayson Tatum scored 20 of his 41 points in the third quarter, and Jaylen Brown hit his shots – and knocked down Giannis Antetokounmpo – in the fourth to help the Boston Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks 139-118 on Sunday.
Brown scored 13 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, and Antetokounmpo lost his cool after a hard pick knocked him down and retaliated by shoving the Celtics All-Star. Antetokounmpo, who had a hard fall on his hand on Friday night but was cleared to play, was called for a technical foul and was sent to the bench; the teams played the final 3:41 without incident.
Milwaukee’s Antetokounmpo had 27 points and nine rebounds, and Jrue Holiday had 23.
Both teams have the best records in the NBA, but they have struggled recently. Boston had lost five of their previous seven games, and Milwaukee has now lost three consecutive games for the first time this season.
Nonetheless, Boston (24-10) leads the league, followed by Milwaukee (22-11).
The Celtics led by 10 in the first quarter and 11 in the second, when Antetokounmpo hit back-to-back 3-pointers and was dunked on by Jayson Tatum in the middle.
Their lead had shrunk to 62-61 when Bobby Portis fouled Brown on a desperate 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. Brown missed all three free throws, including one in the third quarter before hitting the second and finishing 2 for 6 from the line.
In the third, Boston pulled away, opening up a double-digit lead that Milwaukee only briefly chipped into.
Last year’s Eastern Conference playoffs saw the teams meet in the second round, with the Celtics winning in seven games en route to the NBA Finals. It’s their first encounter since then. Last Christmas, the Bucks defeated Boston 117-113 in Milwaukee.
On Friday night, Antetokounmpo injured his hand after a foul against the Nets. X-rays came back negative. Pat Connaughton, a native of nearby Arlington, Massachusetts, made his season debut and scored 15 points. … The Celtics connected on five of their first six three-point attempts. Khris Middleton missed his fifth consecutive game due to a knee injury. He was also out for the first 20 games of the season. … With 1.7 seconds left in the first quarter, Sam Hauser banked in a long 3-pointer off an inbounds pass. In the third quarter, Derrick White hit a 3-pointer. He had missed 15 consecutive games in a row.