Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points and 15 rebounds to lift the Milwaukee Bucks to a 119-112 victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday in the teams’ first game of the NBA restart at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.
Antetokounmpo’s double-double was his 19th straight, matching the longest streak in the NBA this season — set by the reigning league MVP himself from Oct. 24 to Nov. 29.
Khris Middleton had 18 points and Brook Lopez added 14 points and six blocks for the Bucks (54-12), who bolted out to a 17-2 lead before requiring a late push to seal the win.
Marcus Smart scored 23 points off the bench and Jaylen Brown added 22 for the Celtics (43-22), who saw their lead over fourth-place Miami (41-24) shrink to two games in the Eastern Conference.
Boston’s Jayson Tatum, who entered the contest averaging a team-leading 23.6 points per game, finished with five points on 2-of-18 shooting from the floor.
Antetokounmpo sank a short jumper to give Milwaukee a 107-105 lead before the officials rescinded what appeared to be his sixth foul of the evening while attempting to work through a screen. After Daniel Theis tied the game up for Boston, Antetokounmpo converted a three-point play and Middleton added a 3-pointer to push the Bucks’ lead to 113-107 with 1:03 left.
Antetokounmpo answered Brown’s three-point play with one of his own to effectively put the game away.
Boston’s Kemba Walker scored 16 points while logging just 19 minutes of playing time. The All-Star guard is nursing a sore left knee that has lingered since the start of the calendar year.
Smart made a putback and a three-point play on consecutive possessions to forge a tie at 80 before his 3-pointer on the Celtics’ next possession gave them their first lead of the game late in the third quarter.
Antetokounmpo’s emphatic one-handed dunk punctuated Milwaukee’s fast start before Theis and Smart highlighted a surge by the Celtics, who trimmed their deficit to one at 34-33. The Bucks regained a double-digit advantage in short order, with Lopez, Donte DiVincenzo and Antetokounmpo each converting from beyond the arc early in the second quarter.
Prior to the game, players and staff from both teams knelt in solidarity while donning Black Lives Matter shirts during the national anthem.