MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo feared the worst when he saw Boston’s Daniel Theis all alone with the game on the line.
Antetokounmpo could breathe a sigh of relief a moment later when Theis’ three-pointer bounced off the rim.
Milwaukee blew most of a 25-point lead before holding on for a 121-119 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night. Theis’ last-second miss finished the Bucks’ eighth straight victory.
“It’s good that he didn’t make it and we were able to get the win,” Antetokounmpo said.
Khris Middleton had 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Bucks, who have won 13 of 14 overall. Bobby Portis had 21 points on seven-for-10 shooting.
Boston lost for the fifth time in six games. Jaylen Brown had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Kemba Walker scored 23.
After trailing 90-65 midway through the third quarter, the Celtics cut the margin to two on Brown’s three-pointer with 1:32 left. Theis then drew an offensive foul on Antetokounmpo, and the Celtics had multiple opportunities to tie the game or go in front the rest of the way. That’s when the Bucks’ defence stiffened.
Marcus Smart missed a three-pointer with 1:06 remaining. Donte DiVincenzo blocked a layup attempt from Walker with about 35 seconds remaining. Brook Lopez blocked a Smart layup attempt with two seconds left.
“I think honestly, it may not seem it, but I think we did a great job of not tensing up,” DiVincenzo said. “I think we just made a few mistakes down the stretch, but I think it’s good for us to learn how to get better off of a win.”
After the Lopez block, Middleton knocked Smart’s ensuing inbounds pass out of bounds, giving the Celtics one last opportunity.
Smart found Theis all alone in front of the Celtics’ bench, but the shot bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
“Lopez is playing off Theis and just protecting any cut to the rim, so Theis was the best option there,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.