SAN ANTONIO (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks had little to show for their attempts to improve in late-game situations this season.
Until they took on San Antonio.
Michael Beasley scored a season-high 28 points in place of an ill Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Bucks rallied to beat the Spurs 109-107 on Tuesday night.
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Milwaukee erased a six-point deficit in the final five minutes to snap San Antonio’s nine-game winning streak at home.
”We were owed this game,” said Jabari Parker, who had 22 points and seven rebounds. ”We’ve had so many opportunities when we let (them slip) out of our hands, but this game really got us over that hurdle that we’ve been asking for the past two months.”
Coming off a third-quarter swoon in a 107-101 loss Sunday to Washington, Milwaukee battled through another tough fourth quarter.
”I think this game showed a lot of character and resilience,” Beasley said. ”It showed that we are working. We are trying to get better at late-game situations.”
Despite getting little from Antetokounmpo, the Bucks overcame Kawhi Leonard’s 30 points and a 13-point deficit in the first half.
Parker’s layup with 2:56 remaining gave Milwaukee a 103-101 lead, its first since the 3:24 mark of the first quarter. After a pair of free throws by Beasley, the Spurs reclaimed a 107-105 lead on consecutive 3-pointers by Davis Bertans and Danny Green.
Bucks rookie Malcolm Brogdon hit a 3 to give Milwaukee a 108-107 edge.
”Just shoot your open shot, shoot them with confidence,” Brogdon said. ”If it goes in, great. If it doesn’t, you shot it with confidence and that’s what your team wants you to do.”
Brogdon sank one of two free throws with 6.7 seconds to go, making it 109-107. Leonard kicked the ball out to Manu Ginobili, but the veteran’s 3-pointer hit the side of the backboard at the buzzer.
”Kawhi made a good play,” Ginobili said. ”Nothing to add. A terrible shot. Miss.”
The Bucks celebrated their first win in San Antonio since Dec. 30, 2008, snapping a six-game losing streak.
And they did so without their leading scorer and rebounder for most of the night.
Antetokounmpo, who missed Milwaukee’s previous game, started despite having a fever at morning shootaround. He was scoreless for the first time this season, missing his only three attempts, and had two rebounds and two assists in nine minutes.
Beasley responded with 22 points in the second half, shooting 9 for 13 from the field in the final two quarters. He also had three of his season-high four assists in the second half, including one on Brogdon’s decisive 3.
”He was terrific,” Brogdon said. ”He was the heart and soul for us tonight. We leaned on him like we lean on Giannis and he came through. He stepped up.”
The Spurs were without LaMarcus Aldridge, sidelined with a stomach virus similar to the one that kept Leonard out for two games in the final week of December.
Green, Tony Parker and Jonathon Simmons had 14 points each for San Antonio, but defensively the Spurs allowed the Bucks to shoot 52 percent from the field and on 3-pointers.
”Beasley was great,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. ”We never stopped him, but in general our defense was not up to par.”
Bucks: Antetokounmpo’s scoreless outing ended a 14-game streak of at least 22 points for the 6-foot-11 forward. … Beasley, who was listed as probable with a bruised left shin, finished 11-for-18 shooting. His previous season high was 19 points against Memphis on Nov. 12. … Brogdon started his seventh straight game after coming off the bench in the team’s first 30 games. … Jason Terry got his usual jeers from Spurs fans, who still have not forgiven the guard for his many ”jet takeoffs” against San Antonio during successful playoff runs with Dallas.
Spurs: Leonard has scored in double figures in 70 consecutive games, the Spurs’ longest streak since Tim Duncan had 75 straight in 2004-05. … F David Lee had 10 points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes while starting in place of Aldridge. … San Antonio is on a similar pace to last season, when it set a franchise mark with a 67-15 record. At 30-8, the Spurs are two games off last season’s pace. … San Antonio has led by at least 15 points in 21 games this season compared to 25 such leads through 38 games in 2016.
Jabari Parker called the victory his best game since college.
When pressed to explain, he amended his statement to say it was his best since Milwaukee beat Golden State 108-95 on Dec. 12, 2015.
Parker had 19 points in that game. While the third-year forward from Duke has had more prolific scoring performances, the Bucks have not had many big wins.
”You’ve got to remember, we lost a lot last year,” Parker said. ”It wasn’t a good year for us, but hopefully this can get us in the right direction.”
Bucks: Host the Miami Heat on Friday night.
Spurs: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.