Memphis, Tenn. —The Bucks have been on a roll lately winning five of their last six games, playing their best basketball before the All-Star Break.
Jrue Holiday hit an 11-foot baseline jumper with two seconds remaining giving Milwaukee a 112-111 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday night at the FedEx Forum.
“I was the first one down the court, so it was pretty much me and (Grizzlies forward) Dillion Brooks,” Holiday said. “I just took the opportunity. I thought I made a nice play and knocked down the shot.”
Ja Morant kept coming and the Grizzlies’ defense stiffened on the wings. An 18-point first-half deficit quickly vanished in the third quarter. Memphis led most of the final stretch and Morant gave the Grizzlies a lead with a driving layup 7.3 seconds left in the game.
Bucks’ Jrue Holiday answered with a jumper two seconds left contest. It proved enough as Desmond Bane’s last-second three was short off the cylinder.
Morant scored 16 points in the third quarter as the Grizzlies trimmed a 14-point deficit. He poured it on in the fourth with 12 points as he broke ankles on his way to the basket. Dillon Brooks chipped in 23 points keeping the Grizzlies close against the Bucks (22-14).
Bucks’ Pat Connaughton hit a 3-pointer with 39.1 seconds left, Brooks then drove for a layup that was blocked by Giannis Antetokounmpo but was called for goaltending.
Memphis made their first 23 free throws until Morant missed the second of two with 1:01 left. It was the team’s only missed free throw of the contest.
Morant finished with 35 points and became the first Grizzlies’ player to win consecutive games with at least 35 points since Marc Gasol did it in 2017. He added six boards and five assists.
The Grizzlies played well enough to beat the Bucks but, Milwaukee made enough plays down the stretch. Memphis gave Milwaukee fits on the wings with Morant taking advantage.
Milwaukee set the tone early in the game hitting three pointers and playing tough defense in the first quarter, ending the period leading 31-17. The Grizzlies relaxed in the second quarter and made up some ground, but they still trailed 61-51.
The Bucks went cold in the third quarter (missing all 8 of their shots from beyond the arc), allowing the Grizzlies to erase the deficit and even score (84-84) into the final frame. At the end, there was a back and forth action.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, and Khris Middleton chipped in 22 points and 10 rebounds. Holiday and Pat Connaughton finished with 15 points each, both hitting key baskets in the final minute.
“I thought our guys were phenomenal. Offensive execution, defensive execution,” Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins said. “A couple of plays didn’t go for us, but I thought it was a great experience.”
Bucks: Final contest of a seven-game stretch against the Western Conference. Milwaukee finishes 6-1 in the run. With a dunk near the 4-minute mark of the first quarter, Antetokounmpo passed Sidney Moncrief (11,594) for third place on Milwaukee’s career scoring list.
Grizzlies: The one-point margin ended a stretch of 18 straight matches where Memphis games were decided by at least nine points. That matched the longest in NBA history. Grayson Allen missed his third game under concussion protocol. Morant started the game 0 for 8, missing his first six shots from beyond the arc.