Bucks snap skid at 11, top Celtics
MILWAUKEE -- For weeks, the veterans in the Milwaukee Bucks' locker room had been adamant that shots would start falling, defensives stops would come and the painful losses would finally come to an end.
Their faith was rewarded Saturday when the Bucks snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 92-85 victory over the Boston Celtics at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
"It feels good to get that monkey off your back, it really does," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "Especially the way we did it, short-handed, guys playing out of position, it's kind of been our story pretty much all season long thus far. We had some guys who really stepped up tonight."
Among them was shooting guard O.J. Mayo, who led Milwaukee with 22 points on 9 of 14 shooting. Point guard Brandon Knight added 20 and narrowly missed a triple-double with nine rebounds and eight assists while playing a season-high 31 minutes.
"He really played well," Drew said of Knight, who has been hobbled much of the season by a sore right hamstring. "He shot the ball well, got into the paint and defensively, he was being really aggressive."
The Bucks (3-13) went 24 days since their 109-104 victory over Cleveland on Nov. 6 and appeared destined to lose their 12th straight after Boston shot just under 60 percent in the first period.
Instead, Milwaukee clamped down defensively and found its shot for the first time in weeks, connecting on 25 of 57 over the final three periods while making 8 of 17 3-pointers and shooting 46.2 percent for the game.
Bucks center John Henson finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds and rookie forward Giannis Antetokounmpo had a big night, scoring 10 points while grabbing seven rebounds with four assists.
"We were just chasing the win so we can stop the losing," Antetokounmpo said. "I hope we can continue to win and make it a habit."
Long-range shooting proved a big difference in the game as Boston (7-12) went just 4 of 19 from beyond the arc while shooting 41.7 percent for the game.
"We definitely had a good amount of looks," guard Avery Bradley said. "We just weren't able to knock them down. Almost every three we took was wide open, we just weren't able to convert."
Center Jared Sullinger led the Celtics with 21 points and 14 rebounds while guard Jordan Crawford and forward Jeff Green each added 18.
"We got great looks all over didn't turn the ball over -- last night we had 27 turnovers and we only had 10 today -- we moved the ball against the zone and attacked where we wanted to," Stevens said. "We just didn't make as many as we wanted to."
Two of Milwaukee's three victories this season have come against Boston, which threatened to rally late. The Bucks saw a double-digit lead disappear after an 8-0 Celtics run that made it a nine-point game on a pair of free throws by Crawford with 5:09 to play. Forward Epke Udoh's mid-range jumper put the Bucks back up by 11 and after Mayo intercepted a bad pass by Sullinger, Henson capped off a long Bucks possession with two free throws to make it 86-74 with 2:33 to play.
After falling behind, 24-18 through one period, Mayo had eight and Knight scored 12 as Milwaukee took a 47-41 lead into halftime.
Mayo added eight more in the third and the and Bucks led by 17 after guard Gary Neal made a wide-open jumper with 7:23 remaining in the game.
With two of their three victories this season coming against the Celtics, the Bucks will get a chance to win consecutive games for the first time this season when they travel to Boston for a rematch Tuesday.
"You let a guy like Mayo get going and you play them again three days later," Stevens said. "Now the problem is he doesn't have a game between now and then so he feels good the whole time. That's the challenge of playing against really talented scorers."
NOTES: Bucks F Caron Butler was a late scratch due to a sore left knee which is expected to sideline Butler for at least a week. F Ersan Ilyasova was also unavailable, due to a sore hamstring and thumb. ... PG Rajon Rondo, G Courtney Lee and C Kelly Olynyk did not travel with the Celtics. ... Milwaukee beat the Celtics 105-98 on Nov. 1 after rallying from a 22-point deficit. Since then, the Bucks are 1-12 and the Celtics are 7-9. ... Celtics G Jordan Crawford missed the first meeting with Milwaukee but was in the lineup Saturday, one night after recording his first career triple-double. "He's done a nice job of settling us down," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "He's taken a burden off Avery (Bradley) and allowed Avery to play the point some ... he also gets to take advantage of what his strengths are, and that's creating shots at the '2'."