Bucks outlast Suns 104-101 for 14th consecutive victory
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Brook Lopez made a tiebreaking layup and a steal in the final 25 seconds as the Milwaukee Bucks edged the Phoenix Suns 104-101 on Sunday for their 14th consecutive victory.
This nationally televised game didn’t include Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo or Phoenix’s Kevin Durant.
Durant has yet to appear in a game for the Suns and hasn’t played since Jan. 8 because of sprained right medial collateral ligament. Antetokounmpo was out with a bruised right quadriceps after leaving in the first quarter of the Bucks’ 128-99 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday.
“It’s enough where he can’t play today, but I think we’re also confident that this is just a fairly common occurrence in our league,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. “You hit knees, you knock, sometimes it takes a day or two, and it’s really nothing more than that. The level of conversations have all been kind of along that line.”
Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday led all scorers with 33 points, while Lopez had 22 points and 12 rebounds. Middleton added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Devin Booker scored 24 points, Deandre Ayton had 22 and Chris Paul added 18 for Phoenix. Ayton also had 11 rebounds.
Middleton found Lopez for the go-ahead basket with 24.8 seconds remaining. Phoenix called a timeout and got the ball to Devin Booker, who lost possession as he was driving to the basket.
After Lopez got the steal, Joe Ingles made the first of two free throws to extend Milwaukee’s lead to 103-100 with 11.3 seconds left. Ingles missed the second free throw and the ball initially was ruled out of bounds on Milwaukee.
But after Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer challenged the call, replays determined the ball actually went out on Phoenix. Jrue Holiday sank the first of two free throws with 10 seconds left but also missed the second, making the score 104-100.
Booker was fouled on a 3 by Joe Ingles with 0.9 seconds left but missed the first free throw. Booker made the second and intentionally missed the third, but Lopez got the rebound to seal the victory.
Milwaukee rallied after trailing by seven midway through the fourth quarter. After Holiday's 3-pointer gave the Bucks a 100-98 lead with 2:12 left, Booker made a tying jumper over Holiday with 33 seconds remaining.
Suns: Booker increased his career point total to 12,143 to overtake Shawn Marion (12,134) for fourth place on the Suns' all-time list. The Suns' career scoring leader is Walter Davis, with 15,666 points from 1977-88. ... The Suns lost for just the fifth time in their last 17 games.
Bucks: Wesley Matthews missed a second straight game due to a right calf strain. He also won't be available Tuesday at Brooklyn. “I’m hopeful it’s not significant time," Budenholzer said. "He won’t be available on Tuesday and we’ll see after that.” ... Pat Connaughton returned after missing the Heat game with a sore left calf, but he went scoreless in 13 minutes. Ex-Suns forward Jae Crowder had seven points. He made two 3-pointers during Milwaukee's fourth-quarter comeback.
Suns: At Charlotte on Wednesday in the second game of a four-game trip. The Suns beat the Hornets 128-97 at Phoenix on Jan. 24.
Bucks: at Brooklyn on Tuesday. In their only previous meeting this season, the Bucks beat the Nets 110-99 at home on Oct. 26.
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Steve Megargee, The Associated Press