Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Giannis Antetokounmpo appeared on his way out of the game. Moments later, he was instead on his way to the foul line.
A replay overturned what would have been the NBA’s MVP sixth foul with 1:28 left and he made the most of his second chance, helping the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Boston Celtics 119-112 on Friday night.
Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in the Bucks’ first game in the restart. Milwaukee improved the NBA’s best record to 54-12 and moved within a victory of clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the second straight year.
It appeared the Bucks would have to do it without the Greek Freak when Marcus Smart slid in front of a driving Antetokounmpo as he scored in the lane. A charge was called but eventually overturned, with Smart saying the official explanation from referees was that he was too late.
“Quite frankly, I think we know all what that was all about. Giannis’ sixth foul and they didn’t want to get him out,” Smart said. “Let’s just call that spade a spade and that’s just what it is.”
The Bucks disagreed.
“I felt like he was moving on the last play but either way if it was a charge, if it was not a charge, I’m happy that we got the win and I’ll learn from the play,” Antetokounmpo said.
Antetokounmpo made the free throw to make it 110-107. Khris Middleton then knocked down a 3-pointer for a six-point advantage.
Middleton added 18 points for the Bucks, who played without Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton while they work on their conditioning after testing positive for the coronavirus. Marvin Williams sat out with a strained left groin.
Smart scored 23 points for the Celtics and Jaylen Brown had 22, but star forward Jayson Tatum had a nightmarish restart. He had five points on 2-for-18 shooting – though he actually only made one basket.
Kemba Walker scored 16 points but played just 19 minutes as the Celtics look to keep the All-Star guard healthy after he’s been battling a sore knee.
Milwaukee had lost its final three games before the season was suspended in March but came back looking like the team that otherwise overpowered opponents all season. The Bucks broke to a 17-2 lead and should have been pitching a shutout. The lone Boston basket came when Antetokounmpo and Wesley Matthews tipped in Walker’s missed 3-pointer. Tatum was given credit for the basket as the closest Celtics player.
“I thought we had a great mindset coming out in the first five minutes,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said.
More NBA games
Portland 140, Utah 135, OT: CJ McCollum scored 33 points, teaming with Damian Lillard for 11 of Portland’s 16 in overtime, and the Trail Blazers pulled out a desperately needed victory to resume their season. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Michigan State) had 33 points and rookie Ja Morant added 22 points and 11 assists for Memphis.
Orlando 128, Brooklyn 118: Evan Fournier scored 24 points, Nikola Vucevic had 22 and Orlando picked up where it left off before the NBA season was suspended, beating Brooklyn. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 24 points for the Nets.
San Antonio 129, Sacramento 120: DeMar DeRozan scored 17 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter to help San Antonio beat Sacramento. DeRozan shot 10 of 13 and had 10 assists, and the Spurs shot 53.3% from the field. Derrick White matched a career high with 26 points in San Antonio’s first game of the restart. De’Aaron Fox scored a career-high 39 points for the Kings.
Phoenix 125, Washington 112: Devin Booker scored 27 points, Deandre Ayton added 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Suns, who shot 52% from the field. Rui Hachimura scored 21 points and Jerome Robinson added 20 for the Wizards on coach Scott Brooks’ 55th birthday.