Celtics start strong, fade late in loss to Bucks


In any sport, having a 17-0 advantage in the 1st period usually will be a precursor to victory.


But in the NBA – where every team makes a run – the Milwaukee Bucks countered, outscoring the Boston Celtics 47-31 through the end of the half and playing lights’ out defense the rest of the way enroute to a 91-88 win in Milwaukee Saturday night.

Milwaukee forward Larry Sanders score 18 points off the bench, also showing up on the boards with 16 rebounds and blocking 5 shots.  Monta Ellis had 17 points and seven assists for the Bucks, while Ersan Ilyasova  added 15 points and five rebounds. Brandon Jennings made a big 3-pointer in the  fourth quarter.

But it was Sanders’ energy off the bench that ignited the Bucks to their eighth win of the season.

Dec 1, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Monta Ellis (11) passes the ball around Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett (5) during the fourth quarter at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Bucks defeated the Celtics 91-88. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

“I embrace that role, coming off the bench and trying to provide energy, whether  we are down or whether we are up. That’s where I plan on staying,” Sanders  said.

Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles wanted to insert Sanders into the starting  lineup, but relented  when the high-energy forward said he preferred to come off the bench – and Skiles was impressed with his team-first attitude and instant impact.

“He was blocking shots, he was running the floor, he was on the boards and got  some baskets around the goal. He played really well.” Skiles said after his Bucks climbed above .500 with the victory.

Paul Pierce paced the Celtics with 19 points, and Kevin Garnett added 17 points  and seven rebounds.  Boston played without point guard Rajon Rondo, who served the second of his  two-game suspension for his role in a scuffle during a game against the Brooklyn  Nets on Wednesday. Courtney Lee, who started in Rondo’s place, had 13 points,  and Jason Terry finished with 15 points and 11 assists.

But it was Sanders’ energy that made the difference in the game .”He was terrific. I thought he changed the game in a lot of ways with his  effort,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “He blocked a lot of shots and he made a lot of shots, too.”

Jeff Green and Pierce hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Celtics an  88-85 lead with 1:44 left. Sanders then had a dunk and Jennings drained the  crucial 3 to get the lead back for Milwaukee.

Another missed shot and a foul by Boston put Sanders at the line. He hit one  of two free throws to make it 91-88 lead with 11 seconds remaining. Pierce and  Terry missed 3-point attempts in the waning seconds as the Bucks held on for the  win.

Boston was 6 for 19 from beyond the arc for the game, including a 2-for-9  performance by Jason Terry, who shouldered the blame for leaving Jennings open for the  late 3.

“Being a 14-year veteran, I can’t make that crucial mistake on leaving  Brandon Jennings,” Terry said. “I told everyone that I’ll put that one on my  shoulders. That’s the most frustrating thing about this loss. It hurts to be in  that position and to not even make a shot or the defensive play, that’s on  me.”

Rivers was more complimentary of the Bucks than he was of his own team.

“Our rhythm was great and then we started subbing and our rhythm gets upset,”  Rivers said. “We weren’t going to keep the shutout. As some point you knew they  were going to make a run and they did. At 17-0 they could have easily thrown in  the towel. They made some big shots and we missed some.”

It doesn’t get any more simple than that.