BOSTON — Jayson Tatum scored 20 of his 41 points in the third quarter, and Jaylen Brown knocked down his shots – and knocked down Giannis Antetokounmpo – in the fourth on Sunday to help the Boston Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks 139-118 in a matchup of the top two teams in the NBA.
Brown scored 13 of his 29 in the fourth, and Antetokounmpo lost his temper after a hard pick sent him to the floor and retaliated by shoving the Celtics All-Star. Antetokounmpo, who fell hard on his hand on Friday night but was cleared to start, was given a technical foul and went to the bench; the teams played the last 3:41 without further incident.
Antetokounmpo added 27 points and had nine rebounds for Milwaukee, and Jrue Holiday scored 23.
The teams have the top two records in the NBA, but both have struggled lately. Boston had lost five of their last seven, and Milwaukee has now lost three in a row for the first time this season.
Still, Boston (24-10) has the best record in the league, followed by Milwaukee (22-11).
The Celtics led by 10 in the first quarter and 11 in the second, when Antetokounmpo fired up back-to-back bricks from 3-point range and in the middle got dunked on by Jayson Tatum .
Their lead was down to one point, 62-61, before Bobby Portis fouled Brown on a desperation 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. Brown missed all three free throws; he missed another in the third quarter before hitting the second and finished 2 for 6 from the line.
Boston pulled away in the third, opening up a double-digit lead that Milwaukee only briefly chipped into.
The teams met in the second round of last year’s Eastern Conference playoffs, and the Celtics won in seven games en route to the NBA Finals. It’s their first meeting since then. Last Christmas in Milwaukee, the Bucks beat Boston 117-113.
Antetokounmpo hurt his hand after a foul against the Nets on Friday night. X-rays were negative. … Pat Connaughton, a native of nearby Arlington, Massachusetts, made his first start of the season and scored 15. … The Celtics made five of their first six 3-point attempts. … Khris Middleton sat out his fifth straight game with a knee injury. He also missed the first 20 games of the season. … Sam Hauser banked in a long 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer off an inbounds pass with 1.7 seconds left. … Derrick White hit a 3-pointer in the third quarter. He had missed 15 straight over six games.
Bucks: Visit Bulls on Wednesday night.
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