Walker scores 40, but Celtics fall just short of remarkable comeback vs. Bucks
By Tristan Deschenes, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The scoreboard looks like it was a close game, but it didn’t really feel that way.
Kemba Walker scored 40 points, but the Celtics could not complete their comeback, as the Celtics lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, 128-123. The loss marked the Celtics’ second straight loss, and the Green’s fifth loss in their last seven games.
In what felt like a repeat of Wednesday against the Pistons, the C’s struggled while the opposition was white-hot, as the Bucks jumped out to a 36-20 lead after the first quarter thanks to a staggering 62 percent from the field in the first quarter to go with 11 first-quarter points by Brook Lopez.
Milwaukee used their hot three-point shooting to get out to a massive lead in the second quarter, too, and a Giannis Antetokounmpo layup with 10:30 in the second quarter got the Bucks lead up to 44-20. Then a Khris Middleton three got the Bucks’ lead up to 58-31 (their largest lead of the game). But Marcus Smart was able to get the lead down to 17 after a three pointer with 2:37 to go, and a Kemba Walker three at the end of the half kept the Bucks’ lead to 76-58.
(You read that right, 76 first half points for the Bucks.)
Boston allowed the Bucks to shoot 80% from three (12-for-15) and 62 percent from the field in the first half, while Boston struggled, shooting only 28 percent from three and 41.7 percent from the field in the half.
But the Celtics finally showed some urgency in the 3rd quarter, started playing defense, and finally making a few shots. The C’s even got the lead down to 11 with 8:12 to go after a Daniel Theis putback dunk.
Boston got a golden chance to get back into it with 7:14 to go in the third quarter after Eric Bledsoe fouled Walker shooting a three. But when Bledsoe didn’t like the call and got himself a technical foul, Walker was gifted four foul shots. Walker knocked down all four and got the Bucks lead down to 83-74. The Celtics then got the lead down to nine multiple times, but the Bucks kept responding. With 5:14 to go in the third Smart hit a step-back three over Giannis to make the score 87-81, and it looked like Boston was going to take the lead.
The Bucks would respond with a Kyle Korver three and a Middleton two pointer to increase their lead to 96-83 with 2:43 to go in the third before some George Hill makes allowed the Bucks to take a 106-97 lead in the fourth.
Boston, was not done though.
With 9:05 to go, a surprising Semi Ojeleye three pointer suddenly had the Bucks’ lead down to 108-97. Boston would then get the lead back down to single digits, after a Jayson Tatum layup with 8:13 to go made the score 110-101.
After the Bucks got the lead back to 11, the Celtics tried a late fourth quarter run. Tatum knocked down a step-back three to get the lead down to 125-119. Tatum would get another basket with 38 seconds left to get the score down 127-123, but the Celtics could not get another bucket and the Bucks hung on to win.
The Celtics were led by Walker, who finished the night with 40 points in the losing effort, while Smart scored 24 and Jayson Tatum added 17. Gordon Hayward really struggled for the Celtics, as he scored just seven points on 1-10 shooting from the field. Boston was without Jaylen Brown, who missed the game with a sprained right thumb.
The Bucks were led by Giannis who dropped 32 points, 17 rebounds, and seven assists, while Middleton dropped 23 and Lopez finished with 16. The Bucks also got a strong boost from Donte Divincenzo, who had 19 off the bench, and the Bucks shot the ball really well from the behind the arc, with makes on 16 of their 31 tries from deep.
Up Next: Boston goes back home to face the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.