Giannis returns, Bucks hold on for 106-103 win over Spurs
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from an ankle injury to score 25 points, and the Milwaukee Bucks held on in the final few minutes after building a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter for a 106-103 win on Sunday over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs trailed by 15 points with 8 minutes left before rallying to get within three with 35 seconds left on Pau Gasol’s putback.
Eric Bledsoe missed a 3-pointer on the other end for the Bucks. San Antonio rushed down court to get one last shot off, but Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton blocked Dejounte Murray’s 3-point attempt from the right wing with 3.7 seconds left.
The loss snapped the Spurs’ six-game winning streak.
The Bucks built just enough of a cushion in the third quarter, when they shot 64 percent (16 of 25) and outhustled the Spurs defensively for loose balls and deflections. Bledsoe scored 11 of his 23 points in the third.
This was exactly how Bucks coach Joe Prunty wanted his team to finish against a perennial playoff contender before departing on a four-game road trip. Milwaukee is trying to move up from the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with nine games left in the regular season.
Antetokounmpo looked fine after missing a game because of a sprained right ankle, dunking the ball just a couple minutes after the opening tip.
The All-Star forward received a lot of help. Ball movement was crisp for stretches, and the Bucks played aggressively in the pivotal third thanks in large part to Bledsoe’s quickness.
It was the second straight game the Spurs allowed 41 points in a quarter, tying a season high given up to the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
Antetokounmpo added 10 rebounds to pick up his 37th double-double of the season.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 34 points for the Spurs, Gasol had 22 on 10-of-15 shooting and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Trailing by 12 points after the first quarter, the Spurs held the Bucks to 1-of-10 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc during the period and tied the game at 47-all at halftime.
Spurs: Coach Gregg Popovich praised Prunty for his meticulousness. Prunty got his start in the NBA as a video coordinator for the Spurs, spending nine seasons in San Antonio and eventually being promoted to assistant coach. “He was a real work horse, somebody who understood what I wanted and how to find it,” Popovich said.
Bucks: F Jabari Parker returned to the bench after starting one game for the injured Antetokounmpo. He finished with eight points in 18 minutes. … The Bucks outscored the Spurs 27-15 in the first quarter, a rare good start for a team that has not played well to open games in recent weeks.
Spurs: Visit the Washington Wizards on Tuesday.
Bucks: Begin a four-game road swing against Western Conference teams by visiting the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.