The NBA announced on Thursday that it has suspended Milwaukee Bucks guard Patrick Beverley four games without pay for throwing a ball at spectators multiple times in his team's 120-98 loss to the Indiana Pacers on May 2.

The incident occurred with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the defeat that knocked the Bucks out of the play-offs.

Beverley first tossed a ball into the stands hitting some fans who weren't paying attention.

The 11-year NBA veteran appeared to ask for the ball back and after a different fan threw it to him, Beverley fired it back at that same spectator.

The league also stated he was suspended for his interaction with a reporter.

During the Bukcs' media availability the day after Milwaukee's Game 6 loss, Beverley refused to answer questions from Malina Adams from ESPN because she didn't subscribe to his podcast.

Acquired by Milwaukee from the Philadelphia 76ers in February, Beverley averaged 6.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 0.73 steals in 26 regular-season games for the Bucks. He then started all six play-off games for Milwaukee, averaging 8.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.0 steals.

The 35-year-old Beverley, who is known for being an elite defender but also has the reputation of being somewhat cantankerous, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

 

Damian Lillard lamented the Milwaukee Bucks’ injury troubles after their playoff exit at the hands of the Indiana Pacers.

The Bucks lost the series 4-2 after suffering a heavy 120-98 defeat in Game 6 on Thursday, condemning them to their second consecutive first-round exit to a lower seed.

Two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo was one of the key players missing for the Bucks as he missed the entire playoff series due to a left calf strain, while Lillard returned after missing the last two games with an Achilles injury.

Lillard, who finished with 28 points, admitted it was frustrating to have so many injuries, but he wanted to try to make an impact.

"I don't think I would've went into the summer feeling good about much if I felt like I let the team go out there and me not at least try," he said.

"It's definitely disappointing because you know how much better of a team we are when he's [Antetokounmpo] on the floor and how much things change when he's on the floor.

"You play an entire 82-game season. You go through training camp, you go through all the ups and downs of an NBA regular season, and you get to the point where, all right, now we're going to play for everything. And you're not whole.

"You don't have the best opportunity to reach where you want reach. So it is frustrating, it's disappointing, but it's part of the game."

Meanwhile, T.J. McConnell says he is proud to be part of the Pacers team that ended their long wait to reach the semifinals.

McConnell had 20 points and nine assists off the bench, while Obi Toppin finished with a playoff career-high 21 points for the Pacers, who had lost their last six playoff series since 2014.

McConnell said: "It means a lot. Not getting into the playoffs since the bubble, not being able to advance since 2014, we take great pride in being able to advance and extend our season.

"Milwaukee has a great team and, if I can be honest with you, I think our bench has taken a couple steps back competitive wise and I think tonight all of us went out there with the mentality we’re going to take it to another level."

The Pacers will face New York in the next round after the Knicks eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers.  

Jalen Brunson scored 14 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter and Josh Hart made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 24.4 seconds left as the New York Knicks advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 118-115 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday.

Donte DiVincenzo added 23 points, OG Anunoby had 19 and Hart finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists as the Knicks reached the second round for the second consecutive season.

New York will face Indiana in the East semis after the Pacers eliminated the Bucks in six games. Game 1 is Monday at Madison Square Garden.

Brunson became the first player to score 40 or more points to close out a series since Michael Jordan for Chicago against Cleveland in 1989.

Joel Embiid had 39 points and 13 rebounds but was held to six points in the fourth quarter. Buddy Hield scored 20 points off the bench and Tyrese Maxey was a non-factor in the first half and finished with 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting as the 76ers failed to win a playoff round for the first time since 2019-20.

The Knicks led 109-101 with 2 ½ minutes remaining in the back-and-forth game, but Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a 3 and a layup sandwiched around Maxey’s layup to make it a one-point game.

After Brunson’s layup put New York up 111-108 with under a minute to play, Maxey converted a three-point play with 35 seconds left to tie it.

Hart drilled a 3 from the top of the key before Embiid’s layup four seconds later made it 114-113. DiVincenzo and Brunson each sank two free throws to seal it.

 

Pacers advance with rout of Bucks

Obi Toppin led six players in double figures with a playoff career-high 21 points and the Indiana Pacers won a playoff series for the first time in a decade with a 120-98 rout of the Milwaukee Bucks.

T.J. McConnell had 20 points and nine assists off the bench, Pascal Siakam added 19 points and Tyrese Haliburton contributed 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who had lost their last six playoff series since 2014.

Indiana will face New York in the next round after the Knicks eliminated Philadelphia.

The Pacers went 8-3 against the Bucks this season and handed Milwaukee its second straight first-round exit.

Damian Lillard returned from a right Achilles injury with 28 points and Bobby Portis added 20 and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, who shot just 42.2 percent (35 for 83) from the field and 25.9 percent (7 for 27) from 3-point range.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo missed the entire series after straining his left calf on April 9.

The Pacers used a 15-3 run in the first quarter for a 29-19 lead and never trailed again.

Milwaukee cut the deficit to 85-78 with 6:05 left in the third, but McConnell capped an 11-0 run with consecutive 3s to make it 96-78 early in the fourth.

Having kept their Eastern Conference first-round series with the Indiana Pacers alive with Tuesday's Game 5 win, the Milwaukee Bucks could recover their two leading scorers for Game 6.

Despite star duo Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard missing out due to injury, the third-seeded Bucks dragged the series back to 3-2 with a 115-92 victory at Fiserv Forum.

Khris Middleton had 29 points and 12 rebounds – his third straight game with at least 25 points – while Bobby Portis Jr. also had 29 as he made amends for being ejected in Milwaukee's Game 4 defeat.

That meant they became the first team in NBA history to win a playoff game when deprived of their two top scorers from the regular season.

The Bucks will go back on the road for another must-win game on Thursday, and they are hoping to have reinforcements.

Two-time NBA MVP Antetokounmpo has missed all five games in the series with a left calf strain, while Lillard has missed the last two contests after hurting his Achilles last week.

After Tuesday's game, coach Doc Rivers said both players were scheduled to work out on Wednesday and suggested they could be in contention for Game 6.

"I think they're very, very, very close," Rivers said.

Rivers was delighted by the way their team-mates stepped up in difficult circumstances, adding: "You could feel the energy in our film and in our walk-through.

"We were coming to play and win tonight. You could feel it in the preparation, that was not a team walking through a walk-through, thinking this was it. That's a team thinking they can win."

For Middleton, it was simply about staying alive and giving the Bucks' stars a chance to impact the series.

"We have to find a way to win, whatever it takes," Middleton said. "We're still confident. Our backs were up against the wall tonight, we had a great home crowd that got us going. 

"So we're going to have to find a way. That's the only way to put it, find a way to get this next one and force a Game 7."

Already without two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks won’t have Damian Lillard in the lineup for Game 4 of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers on Sunday.

Lillard played nearly 45 minutes in Milwaukee's 121-118 overtime loss in Game 3 on Friday but was ineffective down the stretch after aggravating a lingering Achilles issue.

The defeat was the second straight in the series for the third-seeded Bucks after defeating No. 6 seed Indiana in Game 1.

Antetokounmpo has not played since straining his left calf on April 9 and remains out Sunday, meaning Milwaukee will be without its two leading scorers as it tries to avoid a 3-1 deficit in the series.

Antetokounmpo averaged 30.4 points this season with Lillard adding 24.3 per game. But with Antetokounmpo sidelined, Lillard averaged 32.3 points in the first three contests against the Pacers to pace Milwaukee.

Game 5 is scheduled for Tuesday.

Tyrese Haliburton says a fan directed a racial slur at his younger brother while he was in attendance for Game 1 of the Indiana Pacers' playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum.

The Pacers guard made the claim during his post-game news conference after Indiana returned to Milwaukee for Game 2 on Tuesday, levelling up the series with a 125-108 win.

Haliburton, who was born in Wisconsin, has made his first two playoff appearances in his home state, with the Pacers dropping the first contest by a 109-94 scoreline on Sunday.

After they bounced back with Tuesday's win, in which Haliburton had 12 points and 12 assists, he addressed the incident upon being asked about his experience of returning to Wisconsin. 

"My little brother in the stands the other day was called the N-word," Haliburton said. "It was important for us as a family to just address that. 

"That was important for us to talk about because that just didn't sit right with anybody in our family. 

"It's just been important to have my family here right now. My little brother has handled that the right way."

He then added: "The team did a good job of handling this environment. The conversation… it's friendly during the regular season because I'm the hometown kid, but it's a little different when you're visiting in this environment."

The Bucks were asked about the incident after Tuesday's game, with a team spokesperson saying the accused individual denied the accusation. 

"An arena guest services representative reported that during Sunday's game a few guests were not sitting in their correct seats," a Bucks spokesperson said.

"The guest services representative asked the group to move one section over to their correct seats. Then, one of the individuals in the group claimed to the representative that a person sitting in front of him had used a derogatory term toward him. 

"The accused person denied the accusation. The group moved to their correct seats and no further incident was reported. We take our fan environment extremely seriously and are committed to providing a safe and secure experience."

Pascal Siakam was the star of Game 2 as his 37-point haul helped the Pacers overcome another fast start from Bucks guard Damian Lillard, who had 26 first-half points in the absence of two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

"We've got to be the hungry team," Siakam said after the game. "We've got to be the team that's coming in and wanting to show something. 

"That's the attitude that we’ve got to have against those guys, because they've done it before."

Luka Dončić had 32 points, nine assists and six rebounds and the Dallas Mavericks overcame the return of Kawhi Leonard in a 96-93 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday to even their Western Conference first-round playoff series at a game apiece.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points and PJ Washington had 18 for the Mavericks, who send the series back to Dallas for Game 3 on Friday.

Leonard had 15 points and seven rebounds in 35 minutes in his first game since March 31. He didn’t play or engage in any contact practices during that stretch because of inflammation in his surgically repaired knee.

Paul George and James Harden each scored 22 points and Ivica Zubac added 13 with 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who shot 36.8 percent (32 for 87) from the field and missed 22 of 30 from long range.

The Clippers led 73-67 with 9:32 remaining but the Mavs scored 14 straight points for an 81-73 lead with 5:18 left. After Russell Westbrook hit a 3, Washington answered with a 3 to make it 84-76.

Maxi Kleber and Doncic made consecutive 3s to extend Dallas’ lead to 90-81 with 1:26 to play and Irving sealed the win with three free throws in the final 12 seconds.

Timberwolves stifle Suns for 2-0 lead

Jaden McDaniels scored 25 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t need another big performance from Anthony Edwards in a 105-93 win over the Phoenix Suns for a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert each scored 18 points while Edwards was limited to 15 on 3-of-12 shooting after he had 33 points in the series opener.

Minnesota held the Suns’ big three of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal to a combined 18 for 45 from the field. Booker had 20 points and Durant 18 for the Suns, who head home for Game 3 on Friday faced with a 2-0 series deficit.

Phoenix lost starting guard Grayson Allen to an aggravated ankle sprain in the third quarter, during which the Wolves used a 12-0 run to turn a 63-60 deficit into a 72-63 lead.

The lead was down to 84-76 in the fourth quarter, but Minnesota scored the next seven points and was never threatened thereafter.

Siakam helps Pacers get even

Pascal Siakam poured in 37 points and the Indiana Pacers survived another stellar start by Damian Lillard to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks, 125-108, evening their Eastern Conference playoff series at a game apiece.

Myles Turner scored 22 points, Andrew Nembhard added 20 and Tyrese Haliburton had 12 points and 12 assists for the Pacers, who snapped a 10-game playoff losing streak that started with a Game 7 loss to Cleveland in a first-round series in 2018.

Siakam shot 16 of 23 from the field and had 11 rebounds and six assists.

Lillard had 26 points by halftime in this one after scoring all 35 of his points in the first half in the Bucks’ 109-94 victory in Game 1. He finished with 34 on 10-of-21 shooting – including 6 of 13 from 3-point range.

The Bucks were again without two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who sat with a strained left calf.

Jayson Tatum showed he was unfazed by the Miami Heat's physicality as he logged his first career playoff triple-double in the Boston Celtics' 114-94 Game 1 victory on Sunday.

Top-seeded Boston seized the initiative in their first-round series against Miami at TD Garden, with Tatum adding 10 rebounds and 10 assists to his 23 points, leading six Celtics in double figures.

Tatum's fine performance came despite some rough treatment from the Heat, taking one huge hit from Caleb Martin while going up for a rebound in the last minute of the fourth quarter.

Martin immediately went to help Tatum up but was pushed by Boston's Jaylen Brown, with both players awarded technicals. The Miami forward later said the incident was accidental, as he received a slight nudge from Jrue Holiday before crashing into Tatum.

The five-star All-Star was soon back to his feet, though, and he later said getting hit was just part of the game. 

"It's playoff basketball, and it's a physical game against a physical team. ***'s going to happen," Tatum said. "It's probably not the last time I'm going to get hit like that in this series.

The Celtics led by as many as 34 points in the fourth quarter, with a late run from the Heat only ever bringing them as close as 14. 

Tatum hailed Boston for staying focused throughout, adding: "It's supposed to be tough. In the playoffs no game is easy. 

"There are no guaranteed wins regardless of the score, or how much time is left. We just had to respond and we did that."

Miami struggled in the absence of Jimmy Butler, and coach Erik Spoelstra accepted they were second-best, saying: "Boston controlled this game from the tip. 

"They won the big muscle areas. They definitely won the 3-point line and the majority of the areas in between."

Elsewhere on Sunday, Milwaukee Bucks star Damian Lillard scored 35 first-half points – a franchise playoff record – as they claimed a 109-94 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their own first-round series.

Lillard didn't score after halftime, but his lightning start ensured the Bucks were untroubled despite the absence of two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed out with a calf strain. 

Milwaukee built a commanding 69-42 lead by the interval and never saw their advantage drop to single digits as Khris Middleton tacked on 23 points – 15 of them in the second half.

Looking ahead to Tuesday's second game, which will also be held at the home of the third-seeded Bucks, Lillard said: "In the playoffs, it's about setting the tone.

"We're going to see this team a lot of times, and you want to establish yourself, especially on your home floor. That was my mentality, to come out and try and set the tone in that way."

Remarking on Lillard's incredible first-half performance, Milwaukee coach Doc Rivers said: "He carried us. He was unbelievable."

Over the course of four quarters, Lillard was upstaged by Indiana's Pascal Siakam, who finished with 36 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes on the court.

Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle, however, was unable to look beyond their miserable start to the game.

"The first half was embarrassing," Carlisle said. "We have no excuses. We've simply got to come out better. It was ugly, and we all own it."

The New York Knicks are under no illusions as to the importance of securing home-court advantage for the Eastern Conference playoffs, with Friday's win over the Brooklyn Nets keeping them in the hunt for the second seed.

The Knicks drew level with the Milwaukee Bucks at 49-32 with their 111-107 win at Madison Square Garden, boosting their chances of playing at the iconic venue through the postseason.

Jalen Brunson put up 30 points and added 11 assists as the Knicks made it four straight victories, with Josh Hart adding 16 and Mitchell Robinson tacking on 15.

The result saw New York secure a top-four seed, with the Bucks' subsequent 125-107 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder keeping their chances of finishing second in the East alive.

With the Bucks possessing the head-to-head tiebreaker, the Knicks must beat the Chicago Bulls in their season finale on Sunday and hope Milwaukee lose on the road against the Orlando Magic. If both teams lose, the Cleveland Cavaliers could yet usurp them.

Asked about the importance of playing at home, Hart said: "I heard the lights are really bright at MSG during that time, so it's really big for us."

Coach Tom Thibodeau, though, said the team cannot control anything other than their own results, saying: "We want to go through the finish line so that's the way we're looking at it. We want to improve and play our best."

With Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined by a left calf injury and Damian Lillard missing out due to pain in his left adductor, the short-handed Bucks let the Knicks into the race with their loss at Paycom Center.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 23 points and Chet Holmgren added 22 as the Thunder eased to victory, establishing a 17-point halftime lead which they never looked likely to surrender.

Asked about Milwaukee's failure to wrap up second place, Bucks coach Doc Rivers said: "I don't have much of a reaction. We've got to run to the finish line.

"The good news is, no matter what, we'll be at home for game one. That we do know."

That result was also an important one in the race to top the Western Conference, with the Thunder now locked in a three-way tie with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets.

It's in Oklahoma City's hands going into their season finale against the Dallas Mavericks, with Mark Daigneault's team edging the three-way tiebreaker.

"I think the big exponential jumps come from small incremental steps," Daigneault said after Friday's game. "I talk all the time about stacking and we really are trying to live that out. 

"We just try to have a good day in the day that's in front of us, have a good possession in the possession that's in front of us, a good game in the game that's in front of us and just be very present in the process of improving and competing."

Joel Embiid shook off an apparent injury to finish with 32 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists and the Philadelphia 76ers extended their winning streak to seven with a 125-113 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday.

Embiid had 21 points, nine boards and seven assists in the first 17 minutes but appeared to land awkwardly on his left knee late in the first half. He limped to midcourt and gave up on the play.

After coach Nick Nurse called timeout, Embiid went straight to the locker room. But he returned for the second half and promptly hit a 3-pointer on his first touch of the third quarter.

Orlando, Indiana and Philadelphia are all 46-35 after the Pacers lost to Cleveland and are fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in the Eastern Conference.

Franz Wagner scored 24 points and Paolo Banchero added 22 for Orlando, which dropped its third straight game. The Magic can win the Southeast Division with a victory over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Spurs rally to stun Nuggets

Devonte’ Graham scored on a floater in the lane with 0.9 seconds remaining and the San Antonio Spurs rallied from a 23-point deficit for a 121-120 win over the Denver Nuggets, who may have suffered a potentially damaging loss.

The loss dropped Denver out of sole possession of first place in the Western Conference and into a tie with Minnesota and Oklahoma City. After tiebreakers, the Timberwolves are first, the Thunder and second and the Nuggets are third heading into the final day of the regular season on Sunday.

Victor Wembanyama had 34 points and 12 rebounds for the West-worst Spurs, who trailed 76-53 early in the third quarter and were still down 17 early in the fourth.

Jamal Murray scored 35 points and Nikola Jokić had 22 and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets, who close the regular season Sunday at Memphis.

Thunder handle depleted Bucks

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 23 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder boosted their chances at capturing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a 125-107 win over the short-handed Milwaukee Bucks.

Chet Holmgren had 22 points and nine rebounds and Aaron Wiggins added 19 points for the Thunder, who won their fourth straight and ended the night tied for the top seed in the West after Denver lost to San Antonio and Minnesota beat Atlanta.

Milwaukee played without superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (strained left calf) and All-Star Damian Lillard (sore left adductor) and dropped into a tie with the Knicks for the No. 2 seed in the East. The Bucks can still finish second with a win at Orlando on Sunday or a New York loss to Chicago.

Tests on Giannis Antetokounmpo's injured left calf reportedly showed his Achilles tendon is fully intact, though the Milwaukee Bucks superstar's availability for the final few games of the NBA regular season and the start of the playoffs remains undetermined.

ESPN reported Wednesday that Antetokounmpo has been diagnosed with a left calf strain and his return to play will be determined by how his injury heals.

Antetokounmpo was injured in the third quarter of Milwaukee's 104-91 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics on Tuesday. The victory kept the Bucks one game ahead of the New York Knicks in the race for the East's No. 2 playoff seed.

Milwaukee has three games remaining in the regular season, all against teams likely bound for the postseason. The Bucks host the Orlando Magic on Wednesday before hitting the road for matchups with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday and the Magic on Sunday. 

The conference quarterfinals are scheduled to begin April 20. 

A two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, Antetokounmpo ranks second in the league in scoring at 30.4 points per game this season and sixth in rebounding at 11.4 boards per game.

Though he's avoided a major, season-ending injury, Antetokounmpo's absence for any length of time could still be a big blow for a Bucks team that has struggled down the stretch. Milwaukee ended a season-high four-game losing streak with Tuesday's win and is just 7-10 since March 6, the ninth-best winning percentage in the East over that time period.

The Bucks have also dealt with a number of key injuries over the course of the season, most notably an ankle sprain to Khris Middleton that sidelined the three-time All-Star for 16 games before he returned in mid-March.

Milwaukee has had its top three core of Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Damian Lillard all available for only five of its 30 games since Feb. 4.

 

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo left late in the third quarter with a calf injury, but Patrick Beverley had 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks held on for a 104-91 win over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday in a game that featured an NBA record-low two free-throw attempts.

Antetokounmpo grabbed his left calf and went down as he was heading up the court. The two-time MVP was helped off the floor and he was seen heading to the locker room under his own power.

The Milwaukee superstar was undergoing tests on his left calf and would also have his Achilles tendon tested.

Teammate Damian Lillard said he was encouraged to see Antetokounmpo put weight on his leg after the injury.

Antetokounmpo finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and also attempted the game’s only two free throws.

Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis each scored 15 points for Milwaukee, which snapped a season-high four-game skid.

Jayson Tatum had 22 points and Jaylen Brown added 14 with 10 rebounds for the league-leading Celtics, who had won five straight.

They became the first team in NBA history to go an entire game without attempting a free throw. The previous record for combined attempts in a game was 11.

 

Edwards’ big night powers Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards poured in a career-high 51 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves erased an early 21-point deficit with a dominant second half to defeat the Washington Wizards, 130-121.

Edwards, who scored 30 points in the second half, surpassed the 49 points he scored against San Antonio on April 7, 2022. His total was tied for the fifth-most points in a game by a Minnesota player.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 23 points and Rudy Gobert had 19 and 16 rebounds to help the Wolves win their eighth in 10 games. They have clinched a top-three seed in the Western Conference and face Denver on Wednesday with a potential No. 1 seed at stake.

The Wolves and Nuggets are tied atop the West, one game ahead of Oklahoma City.

Minnesota improved to 12-5 without All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, who has been cleared for full-contact, five-on-five basketball activities in anticipation of his return, which could come as soon as Friday.

 

Warriors sink 26 3s to beat Lakers

Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green combined to hits 16 of the Warriors’ 26 3-pointers and Golden State capitalised on Anthony Davis’ absence in a 134-120 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Thompson scored 27 points and was 5 of 10 from long range, Curry scored 23 and made all six of his 3-point attempts and Green added 15 points and 10 assists while going 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.

The Warriors have won eight of nine to move within a half-game of the ninth-place Lakers.

LeBron James had 33 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for Los Angeles, which had won eight of nine before back-to-back home losses in the past three days.

Davis sat out due to the aftereffects of being hit in the head by Minnesota’s Kyle Anderson on Sunday.

 

Jalen Brunson scored 43 points and helped spark a big second-half rally that catapulted the New York Knicks to a 122-109 win over the spiralling Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.

Both Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo recorded 20 second-half points as the Knicks overcame a 61-50 half-time deficit to hand the Central Division-leading Bucks a season-high fourth straight loss.

Milwaukee has now dropped six of its last seven after winning 11 of its first 15 games after the All-Star break, and its lead over the Knicks and Orlando Magic in the race for the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed is now down to one game. 

The Bucks did get superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo back from a one-game absence, but forward Khris Middleton did not return after taking an inadvertent elbow to the mouth from DiVincenzo, who finished with 26 points, in the second quarter.

Antetokounmpo, who missed Milwaukee's loss to the non-contending Toronto Raptors on Friday with a sore hamstring, amassed 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. Damian Lillard finished with 23 points for the Bucks, but went just 4 of 11 from the field and 1 of 7 from 3-point range.

Antetokounmpo had 18 first-half points and Lillard 14 as Milwaukee took a double-digit lead into the break, but the Knicks reversed momentum with a red-hot third quarter.

New York shot 73.7 per cent for the period and turned a 10-point deficit into a 70-67 advantage midway through the quarter by embarking on a 14-1 run. 

The Knicks stretched their margin further with a 10-0 spurt early in the fourth quarter that staked them to a 99-87 lead with under nine minutes left.

Milwaukee was able to trim the margin to six points later on but shot just 35 per cent in the fourth quarter, and DiVincenzo helped keep the Bucks at bay by making four 3-pointers in the final period.

 

Maxey scores career-high 52, 76ers outlast Spurs in double-overtime

Tyrese Maxey gave the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers a needed lift by pouring in a career-high 52 points and leading his team to a hard-earned 133-126 double-overtime win over Victor Wembanyama's San Antonio Spurs.

With Philadelphia resting reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid in the second of a back-to-back and forward Tobias Harris remaining out of the lineup, Maxey notched his third 50-point outing of the season while adding seven assists to will the Sixers to a fifth consecutive win.

Maxey's biggest shot of the night came with time winding down in regulation, when he cut to the basket and took a pass from Nicolas Batum before converting a layup that tied the game at 111-111 with 0.9 seconds on the clock.

The 76ers forced a second overtime with a similar play, as Ricky Council IV found a cutting KJ Martin for a layup with 24.4 seconds to go in the first OT to knot the score at 121-121.

Philadelphia ultimately prevailed by scoring the final 10 points of the second overtime, with Batum delivering the biggest blow with a 3-pointer that put the Sixers up 131-126 with 1:24 left. 

The Spurs were held scoreless after Malaki Branham's 3-pointer broke a 123-123 tie with 3:32 remaining in the second OT, and turned the ball over three times in the final 2:10.

Wembanyama had nine turnovers on the night to offset an otherwise dominant performance from the rookie sensation, who tallied 33 points, 18 rebounds, six assists and seven blocks. 

Branham ended with 22 points, while Kelly Oubre Jr. recorded 26 points on 12-of-22 shooting along with eight rebounds for Philadelphia.

 

Pelicans down Suns to draw even in West standings

CJ McCollum scored 31 points and Zion Willilamson had 29 to lift the New Orleans Pelicans to a critical 113-105 win over the Phoenix Suns that further clouded the Western Conference's play-off picture.

Williamson added 10 rebounds, seven assists and a career-high five blocks to help New Orleans halt a four-game losing streak and move into a tie with the Suns for sixth place in the West. The top six teams in each conference automatically advance to the quarterfinal round of the postseason, while the seventh through 10th-place finishers will be slotted in the play-in tournament.

Phoenix, which had a three-game winning streak snapped despite 33 points from Bradley Beal, does hold the tie-breaker on New Orleans by winning two of the teams' three meetings this season. Both teams have four games remaining in the regular season. 

The Pelicans never trailed after taking a 97-96 lead on Williamson's layup with 7:19 remaining, though they were unable to pull away until the final stages.

Beal's jumper with 4:02 left to play brought the Suns within 103-101, but Phoenix then went scoreless for nearly two minutes as New Orleans scored the next four points. 

McCollum found WIlliamson for a crucial layup with 29.1 seconds left that gave the Pelicans a 111-105 edge. After Phoenix's Devin Booker misfired on a 3-point try on the ensuing possession, New Orleans' Herb Jones sealed the outcome by making two free throws.

The Pelicans trailed by as many as 12 points in the first quarter, but McCollum tallied 11 points in the second and New Orleans outscored the Suns by a 37-24 margin for the period to go into half-time up 56-50.

New Orleans stretched its lead to 93-83 on Jose Alvarado's 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, but Beal scored the game's next 10 points to pull Phoenix even.

Booker finished with 25 points but went 0 for 6 from 3-point range. Beal ended 7 of 8 from beyond the arc. 

 

Head coach Doc Rivers slammed the Milwaukee Bucks after their slump continued against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, saying losing to "bad teams" is inexcusable. 

The Raptors had lost 15 straight games ahead of their trip to Fiserv Forum, but Gary Trent Jr.'s 31 points helped condemn the Bucks to a surprise 117-111 defeat, their fifth loss in six games. 

Milwaukee were without Giannis Antetokounmpo as the two-time NBA MVP battles a hamstring injury, though Damian Lillard returned after three games out to score 36 points. 

However, it wasn't enough for the Bucks, who pulled within two points with 54.5 seconds left but saw Khris Middleton miss a potential go-ahead 3-pointer before four free throws saw Toronto home.

Still occupying second place in the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee are now just one game clear of the Cleveland Cavaliers and two ahead of the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks.

Each of their last three defeats have come against teams who are .351 or lower in the Washington Wizards (15-63), Memphis Grizzlies (27-50) and Toronto (24-53), leaving Rivers enraged. 

"The last three were against pretty bad teams, and to me that's inexcusable for all of us," Rivers said. 

"This is on me. I've got to figure out what we've got to do to play at a higher pace. The defense has to be better. We've got to work ourselves through this."

Lillard echoed those sentiments, adding: "These are situations where we've just got to have discipline and get the job done, and we haven't.

"But if you ask anybody in the league, they'll tell you these are some of the hardest times of the season.

"We've got to take accountability. If it was one of these games, it's alright, the next two should be handled. To have three of them is disappointing. We've just got to do better."

For the Raptors, Friday's win was their first since March 3 against the Charlotte Hornets, with stars RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley having both been absent in recent weeks.

Barrett had 26 points and Quickley had 25 on Friday, leaving coach Darko Rajakovic to sing their praises, saying: "It's great when we have our guys coming back and playing.

"I thought during the whole stretch the team stayed together. It's good to get a win."

Gary Trent Jr.'s 31 points and Immanuel Quickley's near triple-double sparked Toronto to a 117-111 win over Milwaukee on Friday, which ended the Raptors' 15-game losing streak and extended the Bucks' late-season slump.

Quickley compiled 25 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists, while Trent went 7 of 15 from 3-point range to help the Raptors hand Milwaukee a fifth loss in six games. RJ Barrett contributed 26 points to Toronto's first win since March 3.

The Bucks' woes continued despite Damian Lillard returning from a three-game absence to record 36 points. Milwaukee was without its other superstar, however, as Giannis Antetokounmpo was held out with a sore hamstring.

Toronto seemed on the way towards another defeat after trailing 40-30 five minutes into the second quarter, but Trent led a 16-3 run later in the period that gave the Raptors a 56-51 advantage with a minute to go before half-time.

The Raptors eventually pushed the margin to 14 points when a Trent 3-pointer created a 77-63 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Bucks closed the gap later in the period. Lillard capped a 10-2 spurt with a 3-pointer that cut Milwaukee's deficit to 87-84 in the final minute of the third.

Milwaukee had a chance to pull ahead in the late stages, but Khris Middleton missed a potential go-ahead 3-point attempt with the Raptors up 113-111 with 20.4 seconds left. Quickley then made a pair of free throws and the Bucks were held scoreless the rest of the way.

Middleton finished with 21 points and Bobby Portis tallied 19 points with 10 rebounds off the bench for the Bucks.

Washington stars as Mavericks end Warriors' winning streak

P.J. Washington capped a 32-point night with a tie-breaking layup with 4.5 seconds left that lifted the Dallas Mavericks to a 108-106 victory over Golden State which halted the Warriors' season-high six-game winning streak.

After Golden State erased a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit on Stephen Curry's jumper with 13 seconds remaining that tied the game at 106-106, Dallas' Tim Hardaway Jr. found a cutting Washington for an inside basket that put the Mavericks back in front.

Klay Thompson then missed a 3-point shot just before the final buzzer as Dallas held on for its 13th win in its last 15 games.

Washington finished 12 of 18 from the field while stepping up with the Mavericks holding out star guard Luka Dončić in the second of a back-to-back, and Dallas also received a 26-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist effort out of Kyrie Irving.

Curry ended with 28 points, 14 of which came in the fourth quarter as the Warriors battled back from being down 98-88 with under six minutes left.

Golden State also rallied from a slow start, as Dallas built a 29–13 lead less than eight minutes into the game. The Warriors closed out the first quarter on a 19-2 run, however, to take a 32-31 edge into the second.

The game remained tight until the Mavericks scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to open up an 84-76 lead with under 11 minutes left to play.

Fast start propels Suns past Timberwolves

The Phoenix Suns used a quick start and a strong game from Grayson Allen to continue their late-season surge with a 97-87 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Allen gave Phoenix a lift on a night in which All-Star Devin Booker was held to 13 points on 3-of-12 shooting, as the former Duke star recorded 23 points along with eight rebounds.

Kevin Durant added 22 points in the Suns' third consecutive win, while Jusuf Nurkic compiled 11 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.

Booker did have 13 assists and scored the first five points of a 15-0 Phoenix run to open the game. The Suns never trailed at any point, as they shot 55 per cent in the first quarter to build a 32-20 lead and carried a 57-41 advantage into half-time.

Minnesota, on the other hand, struggled to score throughout the evening and fell behind by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter.

The Timberwolves shot just 38.8 per cent for the game while being dealt just their second defeat in their past eight outings. All-Star Anthony Edwards was 6 of 19 while being limited to 17 points, while starting forward Naz Reid managed just eight points on 3-of-13 shooting.

Monday's loss dropped Minnesota into a tie with the Denver Nuggets for first place in the Western Conference.

 

 

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