Bucks rally late in Antetokounmpo return for 117-113 win
Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from NBA health and safety protocols to score 36 points on Saturday, but Wesley Matthews stole the show when he knocked down a 3-point with 30.3 seconds left to give the Milwaukee Bucks their first lead en route to a 117-113 defeat the Boston Celtics.
Seeing his first action since December 12, Antetokounmpo played 30 minutes and connected on 13 of 23 shots while shooting 10 for 15 from the free throw line. Milwaukee also recovered center Bobby Portis and goalie Donte DiVincenzo from COVID-19 protocols in time for the Christmas TV showdown.
Boston only had eight players available after putting Dennis Schroder in protocols earlier on Saturday, but took control behind Jaylen Brown, who scored 14 of his 25 points in the first quarter. Jayson Tatum also scored 25 for Boston, who led to 19 and came in at halftime with a 35-22 advantage.
Milwaukee reduced the deficit to one when Middleton knocked down a 3 with 3:39 left in the third. But the Celtics responded with five straight and opened the fourth with an 8-0 streak, including six from Parker, who converted a three-point game to reach 102-90 with 10:15 to go.
Portis’ withdrawal with 8 minutes left was the start of the Bucks charge, tying the game at 111 when Antetokounmpo scored and fouled with 1:26 remaining. He missed the free throw and Brown made a pair on the other end to put Boston back in the lead.
But Matthews buried his 3 for a 114-113 lead, and the Bucks held on.
Portis finished with 16 points, while DiVincenzo, who hadn’t played since injuring his left foot in the playoffs last season, got his first and only point on a 3-point shot at the end of the third quarter.
To help fill their depleted squad, the Celtics signed 10-day contracts with Al-Farouq Aminu and Norvel Pelle on Saturday morning. … The Bucks are all-time 5-3 on Christmas Day, including a 3-0 record in Milwaukee. The Celtics are down to 15-20 all-time in Christmas Day games.
Celtics: In Minnesota on Monday.
Bucks: In Orlando on Tuesday.
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