Sunday 12 July, 2020

Bucks edge Celtics to extend lead in Eastern Conference

Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Milwaukee Bucks earned a 98-97 victory over the Boston Celtics in the NBA on Thursday.

Both the Bucks, the number one team in the East, and the Celtics – the team many thought would be number one by season's end — started out sloppily, likely shaking off the All-Star break cobwebs.

But they both came alive in the fourth quarter, swapping big defensive plays and clutch baskets to trade the lead several times in the final few minutes.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 30 and had 13 rebounds, made the play of the game down the stretch, chasing down Jayson Tatum to emphatically block a layup.

But the Celtics battled back to tie the score at 95 on a 29-footer from Al Horford with 54 seconds remaining. That set the stage for Bucks forward Khris Middleton to knock down a 27-foot three-pointer for the eventual game-winner.

The Celtics had one final chance, but Kyrie Irving missed a potential game-tying shot as time expired.

The Bucks (44-14) extended their lead over the second-placed Toronto Raptors, while the Celtics (37-22) remain fifth in the East.

LeBron lifts Lakers

LeBron James scored 29 and Brandon Ingram added 27 in the Los Angeles Lakers' 19-point 111-106 comeback win over the Houston Rockets.

Stephen Curry had 36 points in the Golden State Warriors' 125-123 win against the Sacramento Kings.

Portland's Jusuf Nurkic scored 27 (10-of-15 shooting) and pulled down 12 rebounds in the Trail Blazers' 113-99 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Tobias Harris had 23 points and 11 boards in the Philadelphia 76ers' 106-102 victory against the Miami Heat.

Smart struggles

Celtics guard Marcus Smart had almost as many turnovers (three) as points (five), and hit only two of his eight shots.

Thursday's results
Cleveland Cavaliers 111-98 Phoenix Suns
Philadelphia 76ers 106-102 Miami Heat
Portland Trail Blazers 113-99 Brooklyn Nets
Milwaukee Bucks 98-97 Boston Celtics
Golden State Warriors 125-123 Sacramento Kings
Los Angeles Lakers 111-106 Houston Rockets

Jazz at Thunder

Oklahoma City have won 11 of 13, with a red-hot Paul George (37.7 points per game in the last nine games) and Russell Westbrook (11 straight triple-doubles) leading the way. The balanced Jazz have seven players averaging in double figures, with Donovan Mitchell pacing the team with 22.4 points per game.

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