Bucks sweep Pistons to advance, Jazz stave off elimination

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks scored 41 points. NBAE / Getty Images / AFP
Updated 24 April 2019
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Bucks sweep Pistons to advance, Jazz stave off elimination

  • Milwaukee reach second round of postseason for the first time since the 2000-01 season

LOS ANGELES : The Milwaukee Bucks wiped away 18 years of frustration on Monday by beating the Detroit Pistons 127-104 to complete a four-game sweep of their first round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 41 points as the Bucks reached the second round of the postseason for the first time since the 2000-01 season when they made it all the way to the NBA semifinals.

Top-seeded Milwaukee cruised through the first three games and after a slow start in Game 4, they took control late and won by a comfortable 23 points.

“I think it’s important that we take a second tonight. Enjoy it,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It’s a good night for Milwaukee. It’s a good night for the Bucks.”

Breaking their streak of eight straight playoff exits so quickly means Milwaukee has more time to prepare for their next opponent — the Boston Celtics, who are coming off a sweep of Indiana.

The Bucks matched their regular season dominance over the Pistons, winning all four games. They had met in the postseason four times with the Pistons winning them all.

Antetokounmpo had a quiet night in Game 3 with just 14 points but he had all his weapons at his disposal in the close-out game.

“I remember our first playoff series (in 2015),” Antetokounmpo said. “Chicago, the last game, game six, they beat us by 50 or something insane. But where we were and where we are right now, it’s been an unbelievable journey.”

Milwaukee finished the third quarter with a 17-3 run, taking a 10-point lead into the fourth after the Pistons had led much of the way.

The Blake Griffin-led Pistons set an NBA record with their 14th consecutive playoff loss, a losing skid that began in 2008.

Milwaukee was also the second team in playoff history to sweep their first round series by at least 15 points in each game, joining the 1980 Celtics.

Last year, the Bucks lost to the Celtics in a seven-game series. This year’s second round series will have some new faces.

Milwaukee has Brook Lopez as a starter and added veterans George Hill and Nikola Mirotic.

Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving were out with injuries for the Celtics last year.

Elsewhere, Donovan Mitchell scored 19 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter as the Utah Jazz staved off elimination in Game 4 with a 107-91 victory over the Houston Rockets.

“It’s not over,” Mitchell said. “We have another one, and another one, and another one.”

Jae Crowder added 23 points, Ricky Rubio tallied 18 points and 11 assists and Derrick Favors finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds for Utah, who trail three games to one.

Utah outscored Houston 31-12 in the fourth quarter to set up Game 5 on Wednesday.

Mitchell said they now realize what they have been doing wrong and what it is going to take to win the series.

“We all been struggling with our shots all series,” said Mitchell. “We didn’t play hard at the beginning. The last two games we played harder.

“There is no way we were going to go out like that. We figured out what we have to do. The best thing for us is to continue to play team basketball.”

James Harden scored 30 points to lead Houston. Chris Paul added 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Eric Gordon tallied 16 points.

The Rockets shot a dismal 17 of 46 from three-point range.


Leonard scores 35, Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 for 3-2 lead

Updated 24 May 2019
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Leonard scores 35, Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 for 3-2 lead

  • Leonard hit the 30-point mark for the fourth time in the series

MILWAUKEE: Kawhi Leonard scored 35 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 105-99 on Thursday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Leonard showed no obvious signs of the leg soreness that bothered him in Toronto’s victories in the previous two games, hitting the 30-point mark for the fourth time in the series. He made five 3-pointers and had seven rebounds and nine assists.
Fred VanVleet scored 21 points, hitting seven 3s. Kyle Lowry added 17 as the Raptors put themselves in position to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time. A victory at home Saturday would set up a matchup with two-time defending champion Golden State.
“This was a super-hard win tonight,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.
The Raptors battled out of an early 14-point hole, then got 15 points from Leonard in the fourth quarter to send the top-seeded Bucks to their first three-game losing streak of the season.
“We weathered the storm early,” Leonard said.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points for Milwaukee hours after being announced as a unanimous first-team, All-NBA selection. Eric Bledsoe scored 20 and Malcolm Brogdon added 18 points and 11 rebounds in his return to the starting lineup.
“It’s first to four. We’ve got to go to Toronto, get a game. I think the group will be ready,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
The Raptors were clinging to a two-point lead in the closing minute after Khris Middleton drove around Leonard on the baseline for a layup.
Toronto was initially called for a shot-clock violation when Leonard missed a fadeaway jumper with 35 seconds left. That got overturned by a replay review, and Brook Lopez was called for a foul, instead, for bumping Marc Gasol after he retrieved the loose ball.
Gasol hit both free throws to make it 100-97. Another replay review went in Toronto’s favor when officials determined a ball went out of bounds off Brogdon with 26.8 seconds left. Brogdon pulled his hand away, thinking his dribble had gone off Pascal Siakam’s foot.
Siakam then drove for a dunk, making it 102-97, and the Raptors hung on from there.
Milwaukee was leading 81-79 with about 8 1/2 minutes left when Leonard nailed back-to-back 3-pointers. He hit two free throws before Siakam threw down a put-back dunk to make it 89-81.
The Bucks tied it at 93-all with 2:44 left on a 3-pointer by Lopez. VanVleet answered with one of his own before Antetokounmpo threw down an alley-oop dunk to cut it to 96-95 with just over two minutes remaining.
The Bucks set a fast pace early on and led by 10 after the first quarter, delighting the towel-waving fans chanting “Fear The Deer! Fear the Deer!” They withstood a 16-2 run by Toronto to start the second, with Antetokounmpo nailing a 3 to stop it.
The Bucks also went on a 14-2 run early in the third, with the Greek Freak throwing down a hard dunk off a feed by Middleton for a 63-51 lead. But the Raptors got right back into it.

Tip-ins

Raptors: Lowry now has 1,126 points in 66 playoff games for Toronto, surpassing DeMar DeRozan (1,117) as the franchise’s postseason scoring leader.
Bucks: Brogdon started all 64 games he played in during the regular season, before missing basically all of the first two rounds because of a heel injury. With Brogdon back in the lineup, Nikola Mirotic came off the bench.

Up next

Game 6 is at Toronto on Saturday.