Bucks outlast Suns 104-101 for 14th consecutive victory
Milwaukee (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence hasn’t stopped the Milwaukee Bucks from extending the NBA’s longest winning streak this season.
Jrue Holiday scored 33 points and made a critical theft, Brooke Lopez did tie-break with 24.8 seconds left, and the Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns 104–101 on Sunday for their 14th straight win.
The 2021 NBA Finals rematch didn’t feature either Antetokounmpo or new Suns superstar Kevin Durant, but it still featured 14 starring changes and plenty of late drama.
“Obviously both teams have history,” Lopez said. “These are fun games where the referees let you have a little bit of physicality, you can really go after each other. It was a great atmosphere.”
Durant has yet to play for the Suns and has not played since Jan. 8 due to a right medial collateral ligament sprain. Antetokounmpo ruled out with a bruised right quadriceps muscle after coming out in the first quarter Bucks win 128-99 over Miami Heat Friday.
“It’s enough that he can’t play today, but I think we’re also confident that it’s just a fairly common occurrence in our league,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. “You kick your knees, you knock, sometimes it takes a day or two, and really it’s not much more than that.”
Holiday was the top scorer, while Lopez had 22 points and 12 rebounds. Chris Middleton added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Devin Booker scored 24 points, DeAndre Ayton 22 and Chris Paul added 18 points for Phoenix. Ayton also had 11 rebounds.
After Booker hit the game-tying shot with 33 seconds left, the Bucks called a timeout and passed the ball to Middleton, who found Lopez for a good layup.
Holiday said he initially expected Middleton to hit the ball.
“It’s a great play,” Holiday said. “At first I kind of saw it, but I thought Chris was going to film it because that’s what ‘K’ does. But he is a playmaker. He’s not just a scorer.”
Phoenix called a time-out and returned to Booker, who lost the ball as Holiday forced an interception and Lopez got the lost ball.
“He’s just a defender, he’s a player,” Lopez said of Holiday. “He is one of the best two-way players in the league, at least in the top three. Just phenomenal. Simply the best two-way player in the league. These are the pieces that he does over and over.”
Booker said there was contact in the game but no foul was called, reflecting the physical nature of the game.
“I was touched,” Booker said. “But I did the same with Jru on the other end of the line. In that play, he hit me on the arm. But this is playoff basketball, and the referees are going to leave it at that. And that was it.”
Joe Ingles hit the first of two free throws to put Milwaukee’s lead to 103–100 with 11.3 seconds left. Ingles missed the second free throw and the ball was initially ruled out of bounds by Milwaukee.
But after Budenholzer contested the challenge, replays showed that the ball had indeed gone from Phoenix’s Terrence Ross. Holiday converted the first of two free throws with 10 seconds left, but missed the second as well, making it 104-100.
Ingles fouled Booker at 3 with 0.9 seconds left but missed the first free throw. Booker made a second and deliberately missed a third, but Lopez rebounded to seal the win.
Suns: Booker increased his career points total to 12,143, passing Sean Marion (12,134) for fourth on the Suns’ all-time list. Walter Davis led the Suns in career scoring with 15,666 points in 1977-88. … The Suns have lost just the fifth time in their last 17 games.
Bucks: Wesley Matthews missed the second game in a row with a right calf strain. It also won’t be available on Tuesday in Brooklyn. … Pat Connaughton returned after missing a Heat game with left calf pain, but was down points 13 minutes later. … Former Suns forward Jay Crowder scored seven points. He made two three-pointers during the Milwaukee comeback in the fourth quarter. … The Bucks franchise record for most consecutive wins is 20 in a row during the 1970–71 championship season.
Sans: In Charlotte on Wednesday.
Bucks: In Brooklyn on Tuesday.
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