Late rally falls short: The Celtics showed some fight on Thursday night but it came too little too late against the NBA’s best team. After allowing the most first-half points by the franchise in 15 years and trailing by as many as 27 in the first half, the Celtics had a chance to cut the Bucks lead to one point in the final minute of the game. An airballed Marcus Smart 3 sealed the win for the Bucks, however, allowing the hosts to hold on for a 128-123 victory.
The shorthanded Celtics (no Jaylen Brown due to sprained thumb) got the best game of Kemba Walker’s career in a Celtics uniform as the All-Star went for a game-high 40 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes. Smart added 24 points while filling in for Brown in the starting five but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Bucks firepower as Milwaukee shot 51.6 percent from 3-point range and scored 76 points in the first half to build a lead that the C’s could not overcome. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 32 points and 17 rebounds while Khris Middleton added 23 points for the Bucks who improved to 37-6 on the year.