Thursday, November 23, 2023

Celtics 119, Bucks 116: Jaylen Brown leads the way in East clash to snap Milwaukee's win streak

The Celtics took care of the Milwaukee Bucks 119-116 on the eve of Thanksgiving and in a clash of the Eastern Conference's top two teams.

Jaylen Brown had a bounce back performance from the C's overtime loss to the Hornets earlier in the week to finish with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting (3-of-5 from 3) and a game-high eight assists. Jayson Tatum, who was listed as questionable with a non-COVID illness, added 23 points, 11 rebounds.

Kristaps Porzinigis netted 21 points and Derrick White returned from a one-game absence to chip in 13 points, five assists to help the Celtics improve to the league's best record of 12-3.
"I thought it was great. Obviously, the fans and everyone in the building knew this was No. 1 and No. 2 seed playing against each other, and that just adds more fuel to the atmosphere," Porzingis said in his postgame comments. "The energy was there. We played hard and they made a good push at the end and almost made a comeback, but we held strong."
Jrue Holiday struggled on 1-of-8 from the field (1-of-5 from 3) to score five points, but did grab eight rebounds while also being Giannis Antetokounmpo's primary defender, in the first time facing his former team since being traded for Damian Lillard back in September.

Brook Lopez led all scorers with 28 points and Lillard had 27 points on 11-of-24 from the floor, while Antetkounmpo only converted seven field goals on 20 attempts to go along with 13 rebounds and five assists for the Bucks -- who fell to 10-5 after being winners of five straight heading into Wednesday night.

The Celtics never trailed in this one and led by as many as 21 points in the first half on their way to a 67-53 advantage at the break.

Boston maintained a double-digit lead until late in the fourth quarter when the Bucks used a 18-5 surge to cut the deficit to three (114-111) on a Lillard 27-foot step back (his third 3-pointer in 10 tries) with 44.0 seconds left to play.

After Tatum split a pair of free throws on the next play, Lillard blew a dunk attempt which led to Tatum hitting two more from the charity stripe to put the game out of reach in the final 11 seconds and snap Milwaukee's win streak at five.
"When you miss a lot of shots, usually it's what the opposing team is doing," Lillard told reporters of the Bucks' slow start. 'When you look at how we played, we just didn't execute well. We didn't have good pace to our offense, we didn't make extra passes, we didn't screen for each other; a lot of things we have to do."
It was a hot start for the Celtics -- now 6-0 at home -- in the first 24 minutes, as they shot 58.1% from the field and connected on 12-of-23 from deep to make things uncomfortable for the Bucks.
"We were making great plays and executing for each other and we had our defensive connectivity," Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said.
The Celtics will head back on the road for their third In-Season Tournament game on Friday afternoon when they face the surging Olrando Magic (10-5). Tip-off is at 2:30 on NBA TV.

Game Notes:

Boston finished 52.4% from the field, including 17-of-42 (40.5%) from 3-point range, while the Bucks were 44.6% from the floor and 13-of-34 (38.2%) from behind the arc. The Celtics were out-rebounded 47-43 and outscored in the paint 58-46. The C's dished out 27 assists on 44 baskets and Milwaukee had 23 dimes on 45 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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