MILWAUKEE – Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks showed they can still rally in the fourth quarter to win games with their defense.
Antetokounmpo scored 36 points and sparked a game-closing 9-0 run as the Bucks rallied to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-100 on Sunday for their fifth consecutive victory.
Milwaukee led the NBA in defensive efficiency while posting the league’s best regular-season record each of the last two years. The Bucks generally haven’t performed quite as well on defense this season but stifled the Clippers down the stretch.
The Bucks held the Clippers scoreless over the final four minutes of the game and won for the first time in 11 games this season when trailing after three quarters.
“It's great when you go against the best in the world down the stretch,” said Antetokounmpo, who also had 14 rebounds and five assists. “You're trying to get a stop, and they're trying to score on you to win the game. ... I love just taking that individual pride in guarding the best players."
Kawhi Leonard’s potential tying 3-point attempt bounced off the front rim in the closing seconds. Khris Middleton got the rebound and sealed it by making two free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Middleton, who had 19 points, eight assists and six rebounds. “We have to prove it by doing it over and over again, not just one game or two games. But I think tonight was a great sign that we’re headed in the right direction as far as defensively.”
After trailing by seven points in the fourth quarter, the Bucks regained the lead 101-100 when Antetokounmpo made two free throws with 1:57 left.