BOSTON (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 16 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, and the Milwaukee Bucks opened their season with a 108-100 victory over Boston on Wednesday night to spoil the homecoming of a Celtics team coming off a late and emotional season opener.
One night after a gruesome broken ankle just six minutes into the season cost Boston top free agent Gordon Hayward — perhaps for the entire season — the Celtics fell to 0-2 by giving up an 11-1 run that left Milwaukee with a 97-90 lead and under three minutes to play.
Antetokounmpo added 13 rebounds, Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points and Khris Middleton had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks. Matthew Dellavedova scored 15 points, hitting a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left after the Celtics cut the lead to two points.
Kyrie Irving scored 17 points on 7-for-25 shooting in his Boston debut, and Jaylen Brown had 18 for the Celtics.
It was a subdued home opener for the Celtics, who underwent a near-complete overhaul over the summer even after earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Although Irving and No. 3 draft pick Jayson Tatum appeared in a Celtics home uniform for the first time, Hayward was left to wish them well in a pregame video from his hospital bed.
After cheering Hayward, in his hospital gown, during his scoreboard video, the Celtics fans broke into a chant of his name during the first half.
But the team was unable to make up for the absence of the player who was expected to be their key offseason acquisition when he signed a four-year, $128 million contract to rejoin Brad Stevens, his college coach, in Boston.
The Celtics trailed by seven heading into the third quarter before scoring 14 of the next 16 points, taking a 69-64 lead on Irving’s 3-pointer from the top of the key. But the Bucks regained the lead with six minutes to play, holding Boston without a basket for about five minutes.
Boston’s Marcus Smart and Dellavedova traded hard fouls early in the second quarter, leading to some shoving and a technical foul for the Celtics guard. First, Smart went to the floor with a bit of a hip check. Later, Smart seemed to embellish his fall when Dellavedova ran into his screen.
Smart came up and put his chest into the Bucks guard, and Milwaukee’s John Henson reached in to try to restrain him. Dellavedova was called for a simple foul and Smart was given a technical.
Bucks: Returned to the road for their season opener. Before opening at home the past two seasons, the Bucks had tipped off on the road for 30 years in a row. … Greg Monroe went to the locker room in the first quarter with a cut on the side of his head, near his right eye. He returned and finished with 10 points in 17 minutes.
Celtics: No. 3 overall draft pick Tatum had eight points and nine rebounds.
Bucks: Host Cleveland on Friday night.
Celtics: Visit Philadelphia on Friday night.