LOS ANGELES: The Milwaukee Bucks turned the tables on Eastern Conference leaders Toronto on Friday (Saturday in Manila), winning 122-119 in overtime to snap the Raptors’ seven-game NBA winning streak.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 26 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for the Bucks.
“We did a really good job just moving the ball, defending, just playing together,” Antetokounmpo said. “We were able to stay calm down the stretch and get a tough win.”
Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas slammed down a dunk at the buzzer in regulation to send the game to overtime.
But the Bucks, with 21 points apiece from Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton, emerged with the victory over a Raptors team that had won 15 of their 17 prior encounters.
“You’ve got to understand, this team sent us home last year,” Bucks guard Jason Terry said in a halftime television interview. “This game is personal. This is a pride thing.”
Toronto and Milwaukee also went to overtime on January 1, when DeMar DeRozan set a Toronto franchise record with 52 points in the Raptors’ 131-127 victory.
It looked like the Raptors would pull it off again when Toronto scored the first five points of overtime, but Terry and Middleton made three-pointers in an 8-0 Bucks scoring run that gave Milwaukee a 118-115 lead with 1:58 remaining and they wouldn’t fall behind again.
“We showed growth as a team tonight,” Antetokounmpo said.
The Raptors remained one game ahead of the Boston Celtics atop the East.
The Celtics returned from the All-Star break with a 110-98 victory over the Pistons in Detroit.
The Celtics were hurting heading into the break, losing three straight and four of five to fall two games behind the Raptors.
It appeared the break, and the return of guard Marcus Smart, who missed 11 games with hand lacerations, were just what the Celtics needed.
Leading 77-73 with 2:47 left in the third quarter, Boston mounted a 22-6 scoring run to seize control, limiting the Pistons to three field goals in the span.
T’wolves lose Butler
Western Conference leaders Houston notched their 11th straight victory as James Harden scored 31 points in a 120-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The defeat was even more bitter for the Timberwolves, who lost All-Star Jimmy Butler to an apparent right knee injury late in the third quarter.
Butler had seized a rebound, turned and planted his right foot when he fell to the court, clutching his right knee. He was carried from the court by two teammates.
“The only thing we know is it’s a right knee injury,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game, adding that Butler would have an MRI exam on Saturday.
The Rockets were up 79-68 when Butler went down and stretched their lead to as many as 17 points before the third quarter ended.
Minnesota would whittle the deficit to nine in the fourth period, but with three minutes remaining the Rockets had pushed the advantage back to 15 as they cruised home.
In New Orleans, the Pelicans edged the Miami Heat 124-123 in an overtime thriller.
Anthony Davis scored nine of his 45 points in the extra period and guard Jrue Holiday produced the game-winning jump shot with 7.3 seconds left as the Pelicans dealt the Heat their eighth defeat in nine games.
It was close in Denver, where Nuggets center Nikola Jokic posted a triple-double to lead the hosts to a 122-119 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
Jokic finished with 28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists before fouling out with 1:46 to play — when Denver were leading by just one point.
With Jokic off the floor, Gary Harris drained a jump shot and broke away for a dunk and Mason Plumlee added a dunk as the Nuggets held on for the victory.
There was no such drama in Memphis, where Cleveland superstar LeBron James notched his 11th triple-double of the season as the Cavaliers cruised to a 112-89 victory over the Grizzlies.
James scored 18 points with 14 rebounds and 11 assists for the Cavs, who bounced back from a loss to the Washington Wizards on Thursday.