NBA: Bucks squeeze past Suns without Giannis Antetokounmpo
Jrue Holiday scored 33 points, Brook Lopez recorded 22 points and 13 rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks rallied despite playing without Giannis Antetokounmpo, picking up their 14th consecutive win in a 104-101 decision over the visiting Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
Antetokounmpo was a scratch from the lineup, stemming from exiting Milwaukee’s win over the Miami Heat on Friday with a quad contusion. Despite playing without the 31.2 points-per-game scorer, the Bucks led Sunday’s rematch of the 2021 NBA Finals for the entirety of the second and third quarters — but never by more than 11 points.
Staying in striking distance allowed Phoenix to surge ahead in the fourth quarter, building a lead of as many as seven points in the period.
Deandre Ayton scored the last of his 22 points on a layup with 5:47 remaining, giving the Suns their biggest lead. Ayton also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds and blocked three shots.
From there, the Bucks went on a 13-4 run that spanned 3:15. Phoenix scored only one field goal over that stretch and went more than five minutes total without scoring from the floor. The Milwaukee run culminated with Holiday knocking down a go-ahead 3-pointer to give the Bucks a 100-98 lead with 2:12 left.
Milwaukee took the lead for good when Lopez scored at the rim with 24.8 seconds left off of a Khris Middleton assist.
Former Suns forward Jae Crowder — part of the deal for Phoenix to acquire Kevin Durant from Brooklyn — made back-to-back 3-pointers during the pivotal Milwaukee run for six of his seven points on the game.
Crowder also provided critical defense against leading Suns scorer Devin Booker, who scored 24 points — including a jumper to tie the score at 100 with 33 seconds remaining — but committed a critical turnover with 11.3 seconds to go.
Booker also missed 2 of 3 free throws awarded when he was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 0.9 left and Phoenix trailing by four points.