Knicks rally from 18 down, beat Bucks 116-111 to snap skid

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Two nights after losing to the Bucks on a last-second shot at home, the New York Knicks rallied late in the rematch and stunned Milwaukee.

Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and 10 assists, including a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks stormed back from 18 down Friday to beat the Bucks 116-111 and stop their six-game losing streak.

With less than a minute remaining, Anthony drained a 3-pointer that put New York in front by one.

“It felt good. I’m glad it went in,” he said. “You don’t make it if you don’t take it.”

On the ensuing possession, Lance Thomas stripped Giannis Antetokounmpo, leading to a fast-break dunk by Courtney Lee that helped the Knicks hold on.

New York rebounded from a tough loss Wednesday, when Antetokounmpo hit a step-back jumper at the horn that gave Milwaukee a 105-104 victory at Madison Square Garden.

“It is a great win for us tonight because the other night (we) thought we should have won,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said.

This time, they did. New York erased a 13-point deficit to begin the fourth quarter and ended its longest skid of the season.

Kristaps Porzingis returned from a three-game absence due to a sore left Achilles tendon and added 24 points for the Knicks.

“We needed it. We needed it more than anything,” he said.

Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker had 25 points apiece for Milwaukee. Greg Monroe chipped in with 19.

“After halftime, we relaxed and didn’t move the ball real well,” Antetokounmpo said. “We were taking tough shots and we weren’t playing our game. We had a chance to put them away, but we didn’t.”

The Knicks used a 12-0 run to cut the Bucks’ lead to one early in the fourth. Milwaukee’s Jason Terry was called for a flagrant foul during the stretch after he struck Ron Baker in the neck with his forearm.

After New York pulled within a point again later in the quarter, Tony Snell connected on back-to-back 3s for Milwaukee. Porzingis answered with a pair of 3-pointers.

After trailing by 12 at halftime, the Knicks opened the third quarter on a 15-4 run to cut the deficit to a single point. The Bucks immediately followed with a 9-0 spurt and led 96-83 heading to the fourth.

The Bucks used torrid long-range shooting to lead 65-53 at halftime. Milwaukee made its first eight shots from 3-point range before Michael Beasley misfired with about seven minutes left in the second quarter.

The Knicks jumped out to a 9-0 lead but the Bucks quickly erased the deficit and held a 33-32 advantage after one quarter.

AFTER FURTHER REVIEW

Hornacek brushed off a report from the NBA that stated there was a missed five-second call on Antetokounmpo’s game-winning shot Wednesday. “You’re not going to see it called,” Hornacek said. “They aren’t going to change the game, so you just move on.”

ROUGH GAME

New York center Joakim Noah picked up three personal fouls and was charged with a technical in the first half after he vehemently argued a call. Noah picked up two fouls in the third quarter and argued with referees as he left the court after being called for an offensive foul. He fouled out late in the game and egged on fans as they mocked him while he made his way to the bench.

TIP-INS

Knicks: Hornacek thought he’d be forced to limit Porzingis’ playing time as he returned from injury, but the forward/center logged 30 minutes before fouling out with 2:44 remaining. Porzingis said after the game that he had no soreness in the Achilles. “Maybe I should have worked harder,” he said.

Bucks: Matthew Dellavedova missed his fifth consecutive game with a strained right hamstring. “He’s doing better,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ll see at practice (on Saturday) how he does and hopefully he’s back soon.” … Antetokounmpo has at least 20 points in 14 consecutive games, matching the longest streak by a Bucks player since Michael Redd in 2006.

 

Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers completes pass to become part owner of Bucks

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Aaron Rodgers is regularly be seen courtside at Milwaukee Bucks games, having professed his love of the sport many times. Here was there Friday night for the Bucks’ Game 3 win, sitting courtside with girlfriend Danica Patrick.

This time, he was doing it as part owner of the team.

Milwaukee announced between the first and second quarters that the Packers QB1 is now part-owner of the Bucks, having bought a minority stake in the team.

“I have proudly called Wisconsin my home for the past 13 years, and I am thankful for the friendships and the opportunities I have been given to live and play here,” Rodgers in a released statement. “I am excited and honored to deepen my connection to the region by joining Wes Edens, Marc Lasry, Jamie Dinan, Mike Fascitelli and the ownership group of the Milwaukee Bucks. As a huge fan of the NBA and the sport of basketball, this is a dream come true for me, and I look forward to furthering my affinity for Wisconsin sports as a minority owner in a team I love and support.”

Rodgers is a California native who attended Cal in the Bay Area for college and now — like many an NBA player — splits his time between living where he works in Wisconsin and Southern California.

This is a smart time to buy into the Bucks — and not just because they won Friday. Milwaukee moves into a brand new building next season which should generate a lot more revenue for the franchise. Plus, the Bucks are poised to make a leap forward in the East as a team behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and a solid supporting cast (likely led by a new coach next season), which will lead to more revenue as they become a team to see on the road, one that fills buildings.

Pelicans look to pull off sweep of Trail Blazers

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Before the 2017-18 regular season began, any conversation regarding the New Orleans Pelicans and brooms had something to do with the possibility the team would clean house.

That would have meant parting ways with coach Alvin Gentry and general manager Dell Demps if the Pelicans missed the playoffs for a third consecutive year despite having one of the NBA’s best players in Anthony Davis.

But now, the broom means something very different.

Energized on both ends of the court, the Pelicans have the broom ready Saturday at the Smoothie King Center to sweep the faltering Portland Trail Blazers out of the Western Conference playoffs with a fourth consecutive victory in the first-round series.

With a win Saturday, the Pelicans would become the first playoff team seeded sixth or lower to sweep a first-round playoff series since the 2001 Charlotte Hornets swept the Miami Heat 3-0 in a best-of-five series.

“Closeout games are the hardest,” said New Orleans guard Rajon Rondo, a 32-year-old veteran who is the Pelicans’ second-oldest player, someone who has served as an on-court coach to his younger teammates. “That’s what I’m going to try to explain to these guys. The first three might have been tough, but this last one is going to be very tough.”

In routing the Blazers 119-102 on Thursday to take a 3-0 series lead, the Pelicans fed off a raucous sellout crowd and led by as many as 33 points in the second half, allowing Gentry to rest his starters. Davis finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds while nursing a sore left thumb, and forward Nikola Mirotic, acquired after center DeMarcus Cousins went down in late January with a season-ending Achilles injury, scored a career-playoff-high 30 points, with 14 in the first quarter.

Even though Portland’s normally potent guard tandem of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum had their best game of the series — combining for 42 of the Blazers’ 102 points — Lillard had trouble shaking free of the Pelicans’ trapping defense, which forced the ball out of his hands. Lillard made just 5 of 14 shots, including 3 of 9 from 3-point range.

“They whooped our butt,” said McCollum. “They beat us in every facet of the game: loose balls, rebounds, free-throw line, energy plays, 3-pointers in transition. … You name it, and they did it.”

The Pelicans have made a conscious decision to swarm Lillard and McCollum at every opportunity, daring other Blazers to beat them. Portland hasn’t adjusted properly to the strategy. Lillard has shot 32.7 percent in the three losses.

“I don’t think (defensive assistant coach) Darren Erman has gotten the credit that he deserves,” Gentry said. “He put together a great defensive game plan. It was him that brought the game plan to me and said, ‘This is what I want to do against them.'”

“You have to continue to mix it up and give them different looks,” Gentry added. “Even doing that, those guys got some shots off and made some real difficult shots. We’ve just got to make sure that we stay locked in and not let them get into one of those zones when it starts to go in and it doesn’t matter what kind of shot they’re shooting that it’s going to go in.”

Making matters worse for the Blazers is their injury status. Both Moe Harkless (left knee) and Evan Turner (right toe) are questionable for Game 4.

Portland coach Terry Stotts said the Pelicans have been tough to handle because a different player each night has shredded the Blazers’ defense.

“Going into the series, those four guys (Davis, Jrue Holiday, Mirotic and Rondo) have played extremely well,” Stotts said. “(Mirotic) is the third different guy who’s had a 30-point night. He’s very efficient, and he made a lot of smart basketball plays as well.”

Heat’s Justise Winslow fined $15,000 for stepping on Embiid’s mask

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NEW YORK (AP) Miami’s Justise Winslow has been fined $15,000 by the NBA for attempting to damage Philadelphia center Joel Embiid‘s facemask during Game 3 of their playoff series.

Winslow intentionally stepped on Embiid’s mask after it had fallen onto the court with 7:51 remaining in the second quarter of the 76ers’ 128-108 victory on Thursday night.

The NBA cited Winslow for unsportsmanlike conduct in announcing the penalty Friday.

Embiid was wearing the mask for the first time after returning from a 10-game absence caused by a broken orbital bone around his left eye.

Philadelphia leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Saturday.

Defense found: Bucks overwhelm Celtics for 116-92 win

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton scored 23 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo added 19 and the Milwaukee Bucks used a dominating first half to overwhelm the Boston Celtics 116-92 on Friday night, narrowing their deficit in the first-round playoff series to 2-1.

Eric Bledsoe and Jabari Parker each added 17 for the energized Bucks, who held the Celtics without a field goal for nearly an 11-minute stretch of the first half.

Milwaukee found its defense after a disheartening 14-point loss in Game 2, getting contributions from up and down the roster.

Backup center Thon Maker scored 14 points and had five of the Bucks’ 12 blocks. Pesky guard Matthew Dellavedova, a veteran of a championship run with the Cleveland Cavaliers, helped hold young Celtics point guard Terry Rozier to nine points on 2-of-7 shooting.

“The activity, if you take the stat sheet out of it, the activity and the energy that we brought … as you go through the game, that’s what you need, is the energy first,” coach Joe Prunty said.

Al Horford scored 16 for the Celtics, who fell behind by 23 at halftime and got no closer than 76-62 with 3:06 left in the third quarter on Jayson Tatum‘s 3-pointer.

The game was so well in hand that the Bucks closed out the victory even with Antetokounmpo on the bench for much of the fourth quarter with five fouls. Middleton had eight points in the fourth.

Game 4 is Sunday in Milwaukee. The Celtics will need to get off to a much better start if they want to avoid going home for Game 5 with a 2-2 series tie.

“We got into a hole. This is new for our group,” Horford said. “They had it going … and we really didn’t have an answer for them tonight.”

Milwaukee hustled for loose balls and stayed active around the paint, used its length to get deflections and disrupt Boston in the lane.

The 7-foot-1 Maker, in particular, provided a huge boost to help Milwaukee counter what had been a decisive edge off the bench for the Celtics. Maker got extended minutes only because starting center John Henson missed the game with a sore back.

Nearly everything else went Milwaukee’s way, too.

Parker, who voiced displeasure this week after playing just 24 minutes over the first two games, was 7 of 12 from the field and played 30 minutes. Bledsoe, outplayed by Rozier in the first two games, shot 8 of 13.

“Good win, lots of positives tonight. Quick turnaround … so we’ll have to do it again on Sunday,” Prunty said.