BOSTON (AP) — Kyrie Irving had 19 of his 32 points in the second half, helping offset a 40-point night by Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Boston Celtics held off the Milwaukee Bucks 111-100 on Monday night.
Al Horford added 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Jayson Tatum chipped in 17 points to help Boston improve to an NBA-best 21-4. The Celtics have won five of their last six.
It was the third 40-point game this season for Antetokounmpo. Khris Middleton added 19 points while Eric Bledsoe had 18 points.
Boston led by as many as 20 in the third quarter, before the Bucks stormed back, thanks in large part to Antetokounmpo. He almost singlehandedly kept the Bucks in it, scoring 16 points in the period and trimming Boston’s lead to 88-81 entering the fourth.
It was 104-97 following a free-throw by Bledsoe, but the Celtics got five straight points from Irving to get the lead back up to 12 with less than a minute to play.
Antetokounmpo and Middleton entered Monday as the most productive scoring duo in the Eastern Conference, averaging a combined 49 points per game.
They combined for 59 Wednesday. It offset some early inconsistency from the rest of their teammates, which went just 6 of 24 from the field in the first half.
Bucks: Bench was outscored 18-4 in the first half.
Celtics: Outscored Milwaukee 60-34 in the paint. … Tatum went 4 for 4 from the 3-point line in the first quarter. Boston shot 61 percent (11 of 18) from the field overall in the period.
Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd was called for technical after jawing with an official at 4:44 in second quarter. It ignited an 8-0 Celtics run that pushed Boston’s lead to 56-37. Irving had five points during the run.
The Celtics improved to 16-2 when scoring 100 or more points.
The Bucks haven’t been held under 100 points since a 99-88 loss to Washington on Nov. 20 — a span of six games.
Bucks: Begin a three-game homestand Wednesday against Detroit.
Celtics: Conclude five-game homestand Wednesday against Dallas.
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