NBA regular season

Giannis Antetokounmpo makes triumphant return in Bucks comeback win

Giannis Antetokounmpo makes triumphant return in Bucks comeback win

ESCAPE ACT. Giannis Antetokounmpo records a double-double of 36 points and 12 rebounds.

Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports/REUTERS

Giannis Antetokounmpo propels the Bucks to a come-from-behind win over the Celtics on Christmas Day

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points and 12 rebounds in his return from COVID-19 protocols as the Milwaukee Bucks rallied from 19 points down to beat the visiting Boston Celtics 117-113 in a Christmas Day showdown on Saturday.

Antetokounmpo finished 13-of-23 from the field and added five assists in just under 30 minutes after missing five games in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

Khris Middleton and Jrue Holliday scored 17 points apiece for Milwaukee, which won its third straight game. Bucks center Bobby Portis added 16 points and 10 boards after sitting out four games in COVID protocols.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown scored 25 apiece to lead Boston, which lost for the seventh time in 11 ties.

Marcus Smart added 19 points and Payton Pritchard scored 16 off the bench for the Celtics.

Shortly before tip-off, Boston guard Dennis Schroder became the team’s 13th player in over a week to enter the league’s health and safety protocols.

Schroder was sidelined in COVID protocols along with Celtics guards Josh Richardson and C.J. Miles, forwards Grant Williams, Aaron Nesmith, Justin Jackson and Sam Hauser, and centers Enes Freedom and Bruno Fernando.

Donte DiVincenzo scored three points in his season debut for Milwaukee after undergoing offseason ankle surgery and clearing COVID protocols.

Boston was up 62-47 at halftime after leading by as many as 19 in the second quarter.

Milwaukee surged back with a 43-point third quarter and pulled within 94-90 entering the fourth. The Celtics scored the first eight points of the final period in a 10-2 run to reclaim a double-digit advantage.

Antetokounmpo’s point-blank layup with 1:29 remaining capped a 19-7 surge for the Bucks to tie it at 111. Wesley Matthews’ 3-pointer with 30.3 seconds left gave Milwaukee its first lead at 114-113.

Brown missed a potential go-ahead 14-foot jumper with 22.1 seconds to play and Middleton made it a three-point game with a pair of free throws with 17.8 on the clock.

Antetokounmpo blocked a dunk attempt by Robert Williams III with 7.3 seconds to go and a coach’s challenge gave Milwaukee the ball back after it went out of bounds off a Celtics player. Middleton made 1-of-2 free throws at the other end to seal it. –

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