Spurs get critical win, drop Bucks 146-125
Milwaukee, currently third in the Eastern Conference, had a five-game winning streak snapped.
DeMar DeRozan poured in 23 points and three of his San Antonio teammates scored at least 20 as the Spurs moved a step closer to a spot in the play-in tournament with a 146-125 victory over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks on Monday in a game with major playoff implications for both teams.
San Antonio (33-35) has won two of its past three games but just twice in its past eight outings. Despite the uneven results of the past three weeks, the Spurs are a near-lock for the NBA's play-in tournament for the teams finishing 7-10 in the conference standings at the end of the regular season.
The Spurs' win Monday combined with New Orleans' loss to Memphis reduced San Antonio's magic number for clinching at least the 10th spot to just one game.
Dejounte Murray added 21 points, and Patty Mills and Keldon Johnson hit for 20 points apiece for the Spurs. Rudy Gay and Lonnie Walker IV scored 19 each and Devin Vassell hit for 10 for San Antonio, which shot 59.6 percent from the floor for the game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks (43-25) with 28 points, with Khris Middleton adding 23, Jrue Holiday scoring 20, Bobby Portis Jr. hitting for 13 and Brook Lopez and Donte DiVincenzo tallying 12 points each.
Milwaukee, currently third in the Eastern Conference behind Philadelphia and Brooklyn, had a five-game winning streak snapped.
San Antonio rolled to a 45-36 lead at the end of the first quarter, scoring 11 of the final 14 points while amassing its most points in the opening quarter of a game this season. The Spurs continued to shoot the lights out in the second period, building their advantage to as many as 24 points before going to halftime up 87-64.
Gay scored 15 points in the half to lead the Spurs, with Mills adding 14, and Murray and DeRozan hitting for 13 each. San Antonio shot 67.3 percent from the floor and 66.7 (12 of 18) from beyond the arc over the first two periods.
Middleton's 17 points over 19 first-half minutes led all scorers while Holiday racked up 12 and Antetokounmpo tallied 10 for Milwaukee, which shot 52.1 percent in the half.
The Bucks made a run in the third quarter that brought them to within 14 points before San Antonio found its stride again, moving its lead to 113-93 with a quarter to play.