Even with Giannis Antetokounmpo sitting out, the Milwaukee Bucks continue to win.
While the Bucks hope Antetokounmpo can return from a minor knee injury, they also are looking forward to getting a chance at extending the NBA’s longest winning streak to 15 games Tuesday night when they visit the Brooklyn Nets.
Milwaukee is 7-5 when Antetokounmpo sits out.
He has played 15 minutes over his past two games. Antetokounmpo exited a 12-point win in Chicago after six minutes before the All-Star break with a sprained right wrist and then departed after nine minutes Friday in a 29-point rout of Miami when he tweaked his right knee in the first quarter.
Milwaukee held out Antetokounmpo on Sunday and won the type of game it might encounter in the playoffs when it outlasted the visiting Phoenix Suns for a 104-101 victory. The Bucks were able to withstand their star’s absence by getting big performances from Jrue Holiday and former Net Brook Lopez. The club matched the 1972-73 team for the fourth-longest run in team history.
Holiday scored 33 points and also got the key steal against Phoenix’s Devin Booker with 11 seconds remaining. Lopez scored 22 and also hit the tiebreaking layup off a feed from Khris Middleton with 24.8 seconds left.
“I don’t think we’re too excited how long we’re on this win streak but we’re excited about each win every night,” Middleton said. “That’s what it’s all about, I think.”
Antetokounmpo is averaging 31.9 points during the streak, including a 50-point showing Jan. 29 against New Orleans and a 54-point performance in a comeback win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 4. He also has scored at least 30 points nine times during the streak.
Besides the star forward’s recent showings, Holiday is averaging 20.2 during the streak and 28.0 over his past four games.
Before Milwaukee’s current run, the Nets held the NBA’s longest winning streak of the season when they won 12 straight. One of those wins was Dec. 23, when Brooklyn shot 49.5 percent in a 118-100 home win over the Bucks, who made just 9 of 37 3-point tries.
Now, the Nets are trying to figure out their new roster on the fly while hoping to avoid falling further down in the playoff race following the trades of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Brooklyn is 9-14 since the winning streak, a stretch that coincided with Durant’s knee injury and trade requests by the two stars. The Nets are also 3-7 since a 17-point home win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 30. They took a 129-127 loss at Atlanta on Sunday heading into a three-game stretch where they face Milwaukee ahead of visits to the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.
On Sunday, the Nets erased an 18-point deficit only to lose on a game-winner by Trae Young at the buzzer. Sunday’s loss occurred after they scored just 29 points in the first half in a 131-87 rout at Chicago on Friday.
Cameron Johnson scored 27 against Atlanta for his best game since joining the Nets in the Durant trade. Mikal Bridges added 24 and has three 20-point games since the trade, including his 45-point outing Feb. 15 against visiting Miami.
“You can’t feel sorry for yourself,” Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn said. “What we have to do is continue to stay together and believe we can get it done.”
Milwaukee is 20-6 in the past 26 regular-season meetings.
–Field Level Media