Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Bucks 131, Celtics 125 [OT]: Jrue Holiday goes off for 40 points to beat Boston, win 11 straight

The Celtics got their four-game win streak snapped to the Milwaukee Bucks in a overtime 131-125 loss Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum.

The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Derrick White finished with 27 points, 12 assists, while Malcolm Brogdon had 26 points on 8-of-17 off the bench. Mike Muscala added 18 points, eight rebounds, Sam Hauser and Blake Griffin each chipped in 15 points respectively all in a starting role for Boston -- who fell to 41-17 on the season (only a half-game lead on the Bucks for the East's best record).
"We expected to win that game," said Brogdon during his postgame comments. "We went into that game like we were going to win, like we were supposed to win. We believe we are the best team on the floor every single night."
The Celtics were without All-Stars -- Jayson Tatum (non-COVID illness) and Jaylen Brown (facial fracture) -- as well as Marcus Smart (sprained right ankle) and Al Horford (swelling in right knee).
"It's the deepest, the best team that I've ever been a part of," White said in his postgame presser about teammates stepping up with four starters out -- despite the loss.
Jrue Holiday recorded a career-high 40 points on 13-of-21 from the floor, including 8-of-12 from deep to lead Milwaukee. Giannis Antetkounmpo nearly notched a triple-double of 36 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, while Khris Middleton contributed with 16 points, 11 rebounds off the bench in a minutes restriction for the Bucks -- who improved to 40-17 and have won 11 straight.

The Celtics had a 35-point first quarter and Milwaukee responded with a 37-point second quarter to take a 64-63 advantage at the half.

Boston used a 20-6 run to lead 90-76 with 2:55 left in the third period -- the largest margin of the night -- before the Bucks went on a 14-5 spurt of their own, capped off by a Holiday 42-footer to trail 95-90 heading into the final frame.

In a back and forth fourth quarter, which included five ties and five lead changes, Hauser made a top of the key 3-pointer tie the game at 116 with 3.0 seconds left in regulation. Middleton missed a mid-range jumper at the buzzer that sent it into overtime.

Back-to-back baskets by White (layup and 3-pointer) gave the C's their only lead in the extra session, as the Bucks outscored Boston 15-4 the rest of the way, including a dagger 3-pointer by Holiday with 25.0 seconds remaining in OT to put the home team up 127-125.

A Grant Williams (12 points, 10 rebounds) turnover in the final seconds, iced the game for Milwaukee to even up the season series 1-1 with one last matchup left next month -- in case both teams finish with identical records and a tiebreaker would come into play for seeding purposes.

The Celtics return home to host the Detroit Pistons (15-43) Wednesday night, in their last game before the All-Star break.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 46.5% from the field, including 34.0% (17-of-50) from 3-point range, while the Bucks were 47.8% from the floor and 42.9% (18-of-42) from long-distance. The Celtics were out-rebounded 52-44, but outscored the home team 54-44 in the paint. The C's dished out 28 assists on 46 baskets and Milwaukee had 29 dimes on 43 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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