“Return to the MECCA” matchup: Milwaukee Bucks fall to Boston Celtics 96-89
MILWAUKEE — Al Horford had 27 points and nine rebounds, and the Boston Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks 96-89 on Thursday night.
Kyrie Irving added 24 points and seven assists for Boston, which avenged a loss to Milwaukee in Boston earlier this month.
The game was played at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, formerly known as the MECCA, which served as the Bucks’ home from 1968 until the team moved into the Bradley Center in 1988.
The Bucks chose to play one game this season at the 11,000-seat arena to mark the franchise’s 50th anniversary. The team will move into a new arena next season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 28 points for Milwaukee. Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon added 15 apiece.
Antetokounmpo, who came into the game leading the league with nearly 37 points per game, scored just 11 in the first half before matching that total in the third quarter as the Bucks built a seven-point lead midway through the period.
The Celtics grabbed control in the fourth, building a 12-point lead midway through the period before Tony Snell sank back-to-back 3-pointers, bringing the capacity crowd to its feet and forcing a timeout. The Celtics quickly built the lead back to double digits, but the Bucks briefly rallied again. Brogdon’s layup brought the Bucks within five points with just under 4 minutes remaining but Milwaukee would get no closer.
The Celtics jumped out to a 10-point lead early in the first quarter and led 28-23 after the period, led by Irving’s nine points. The Bucks led 44-43 at the half on a late running dunk by Middleton. Irving had 16 first-half points.
Celtics: G Marcus Smart, who sat out the previous two games with a sprained left ankle, returned to action, scoring eight points in 26 minutes. … F Daniel Theis made his first career start.
Bucks: Brogdon returned after missing one game with a left ankle sprain. … DeAndre Liggins received a technical foul after blocking Terry Rozier’s shot, then standing over him after he fell to the floor.
Celtics: Visit Miami on Saturday night.
Bucks: Visits Atlanta on Sunday to start a six-game road trip.