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Holiday scores 40 as Bucks down Celtics

By AFP - Feb 15,2023 - Last updated at Feb 15,2023

LOS ANGELES — Jrue Holiday produced a scintillating 40-point performance as the Milwaukee Bucks snatched a 131-125 overtime victory against the Boston Celtics in a pulsating clash between the Eastern Conference heavyweights on Tuesday.

Holiday’s virtuoso display included seven points in overtime — including a crucial three-pointer to give Milwaukee the lead — as the Bucks stretched their unbeaten streak to 11 games.

The 32-year-old two-time All-Star also conjured the moment of the game in the third quarter, launching a remarkable 41-foot bucket to get Milwaukee within five points after Boston had led by 14 just minutes earlier.

It was one of eight three-pointers nailed by Holiday, who was given heavy scoring support from Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo finished with 36 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists.

“I don’t really, I guess, care for how I’m playing as long as we’re winning,” Holiday said afterwards. “As long as we get the win, I’m okay. The only stat I look at is turnovers. That’s kind of how I determine if I had a good or bad game. 

“Tonight, what did I have, five turnovers? To me, I’m like — that hurts my soul. 

“For me it doesn’t matter if I score: I want to make plays on defence when I’m on the court.”

The Bucks improved to 40-17 with the win and are now just half a game behind Eastern Conference leaders Boston, who fell to 41-17 following the loss.

The Celtics, however, will take heart from a gutsy performance from what amounted to a second-string starting line-up. 

Boston went into the game missing several key players including Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Yet, for long periods the depleted Celtics threatened to end the Bucks’ winning streak in front of their home crowd at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum.

Milwaukee reached half-time with a slender one-point advantage, leading 64-63.

 

Drama

 

But an inspired Boston performance in the third quarter saw the Celtics go 14 points clear before Milwaukee engineered a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to five points.

Boston appeared to have stopped the bleeding with a Payton Pritchard layup and a free throw, but Holiday’s monster 41-footer on the buzzer left the game finely balanced at 95-90 heading into the fourth.

There was more drama to come in the final period. 

Holiday looked to have given the Bucks a decisive lead after back-to-back three pointers made it 113-107.

However Boston refused to roll over and forced overtime when Sam Hauser sank a 28-footer to tie the game at 116-116 with three seconds remaining.

Boston took charge early in overtime with Derrick White’s three-pointer putting the Celtics five points clear. 

But another Bucks rally ended with Holiday’s go-ahead three-pointer with 25.2 seconds remaining before Antetokounmpo reeled off four unanswered points to close out the win.

White led Boston’s scorers with 27 points while Malcolm Brogdon finished with 26 off the bench. 

All five Boston starters finished in double figures, with Mike Muscala chipping in with 18 and Blake Griffin and Hauser adding 15 apiece.

 

Clippers, Suns win

 

Elsewhere, 33 points from Kawhi Leonard sparked the Los Angeles Clippers to a 134-124 win over the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

Leonard’s points tally included seven-of-nine from three-point range. Norman Powell added 24 from the bench with Paul George 20.

The Warriors scoring was led by Jordan Poole with 28 points.

In Portland, Damian Lillard came within a whisker of another 40-point game but it was not enough to stop the Trail Blazers suffering a comprehensive 126-101 loss to the Washington Wizards.

Lillard finished with 39 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. The Wizards proved too strong however with Kyle Kuzma (33) and Kristaps Porzingis (28) combining for 61 points.

In Phoenix, the Suns warmed up for the imminent arrival of new signing Kevin Durant with a 120-109 defeat of the Sacramento Kings.

Devin Booker led the Phoenix scoring with 32 points while Deandre Ayton added 29 points.

 

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