NBA regular season

Late surge lifts Bucks past Celtics, into 2nd place in East

Late surge lifts Bucks past Celtics, into 2nd place in East

RALLY. Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo gets pressure from Celtics guard Derrick White.

Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks now hold the driver's seat for the No. 2 seed in the East

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday both scored 29 points as the Milwaukee Bucks moved a half-game ahead of the visiting Boston Celtics for second place in the Eastern Conference with a 127-121 win on Thursday, April 7 (Friday, April 8, Manila time).

Milwaukee (50-30) led much of the way thanks to advantages of 58-34 for points in the paint, 14-5 on second-chance points and 19-9 on fastbreaks – a byproduct of the Bucks forcing the Celtics into 15 turnovers.

Boston (50-31) kept the game tight thanks to 21-of-50 three-point shooting.

The Celtics’ Marcus Smart stepped up with teammate Jayson Tatum (knee) on the sideline, scoring 19 of his 29 points in the second half. Smart shot 7-of-12 from three-point range.

After trailing by 13 points, Boston pulled ahead with 4:25 remaining when Smart sank a three-pointer. He added a layup to extend the lead to 121-118 with 2:27 to go.

Milwaukee held Boston scoreless the rest of the way.

Bobby Portis (17 points) delivered a three-pointer at the 2:11 mark on the last of Holiday’s 8 assists, tying the score at 121.

Antetokounmpo split a pair of free throws to put Milwaukee ahead with 1:31 left, and Holiday’s tip-in with a minute remaining increased the gap to three.

After a lengthy delay while officials reviewed whether a missed three-point attempt by Boston’s Jaylen Brown drew rim, the Celtics’ Daniel Theis missed a wide-open look at the rim. 

Antetokounmpo added another free throw, and then George Hill punctuated Milwaukee’s final home game of the regular season with a strip of Brown and fast-break bucket on the other end.

Brown recorded a triple-double of 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, while Theis added another 22 points in the loss.

Milwaukee is now in the driver’s seat for the No. 2 seed, with games remaining Friday at Detroit and Sunday at Cleveland. Boston, up by a half-game on the Philadelphia 76ers (49-31), ends its regular season on Sunday in Memphis. –