Friday, January 12, 2024

Bucks 135, Celtics 102: Starters get benched for second half of blowout loss in Milwaukee

The Celtics were on the other end of a dominating performance in a 135-102 blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday night at Fiserv Forum.

Payton Pritchard had a team-high 21 points, while Sam Hauser added 15 points, as the starters were pulled after the second quarter when Boston only scored a total 38 points (season-low) on 32% shooting, including 1-of-16 from 3-point range by halftime.
"We just didn't have it tonight," C's coach Joe Mazzulla said. "That can happen from time to time."
Playing on a second night of a back-to-back, following a 127-120 overtime win against the Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday -- the Celtics simply came out flat in Milwaukee to open the game. They trailed 31-23 with 2:14 left in the first quarter following a Oshae Brissett (13 points) dunk -- the closest Boston would get all night -- before going scoreless for nearly the next seven minutes.   

The Bucks went on a 25-0 run that bled into the second period during that span, as a Jaylen Brown (10 points) dunk stopped the bleeding, but the damage was done and that essentially was the game. The score read 75-38 at the break and Milwaukee led by as many as 43 at one point.
"I just thought it was in the best interest of our team," Mazzulla said postgame when asked about the decision to rest his starters. "Just the way the game was going. Just kind of thought that was best for everybody."
Bobby Portis dropped 28 points on 5-of-6 from deep to go along with 12 rebounds, while Giannis Antetokoumpo had 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting and 12 rebounds to lead the Bucks, who improved to 26-12 on the season.
"Hopefully we can keep this up not just against the Boston Celtics, not just when we have two days off or not when we have not played well," Antetokounmpo said in his postgame comments. "Even if we've played well and even if we've played bad, be able to come in the game and play with the same urgency and with the same focus and with the same energy."
Damian Lillard added 21 points and Malik Beasley chipped in 16 points on 4-of-8 from 3-point range for Milwaukee, as they evened the season series with the C's at one-game a piece.

Jrue Holiday finished with six points, four rebounds and two assists in his first return to Milwaukee since being dealt for Lillard in the offseason and traded again to Boston just days later. The veteran guard got a standing ovation after getting a tribute video prior to the start of the second quarter.
"It was cool to kind of see that," Holiday told reporters. "The fans here have always been great."
The Celtics (29-9) head home to host the Houston Rockets at TD Garden Saturday night. Tip-off is at 7:00 pm ET.

Game Notes:

Boston was 37.4% from the field, including 9-of-35 (25.7%)  from long distance, while the Bucks were 56.5% from the floor and 18-of-42 (42.9%) from 3. The Celtics were out-rebounded 54-31 and outscored in the paint 54-46. Milwaukee dished out 34 assists (11 turnovers) on 52 baskets and the C's had 22 dimes (six turnovers) on 34 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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