BOSTON — The Milwaukee Bucks scored 36 third-quarter points and damaged Boston’s playoff chances with a 110-101 victory over the Celtics on Friday night.
Trailing by as many as nine points in the first half and by two at the break, the Bucks opened the second half with a 17-4 run to take control of the game and post their second straight win.
After leading by as many as 16 points, the Celtics charged back and cut the deficit to four with 10:29 left, but Boston turned the ball over five times in less than five minutes — seven times in the quarter — to damage the comeback.
The loss hurt the Celtics (34-42) in their improbable bid to steal a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They entered the game tied for eighth — actually sitting in ninth because of a tiebreaker with the Miami Heat. Boston plays its next three games on the road.
Bucks guard O.J. Mayo, who came in averaging 11 points per game, scored 20 of his 24 in the first half and forward Ersan Ilyasova scored seven straight points and had 13 of his 17 in the third quarter.
The Bucks made 14 of 23 shots from the floor and outrebounded the Celtics 16-5 in the third quarter.
Center Zaza Pachulia added 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists and the Bucks went 9 of 24 from 3-point range. Guard Michael Carter-Williams had eight points, seven assists and five rebounds, making two big baskets late as the Bucks placed seven players in double figures.
Guard Isaiah Thomas came off the bench to lead the Celtics with 23 points and had six assists. Guard Avery Bradley scored his team’s first nine points and finished with 17, and forward Jonas Jerebko came off the bench to contribute 17 points.
Boston forward Jared Sullinger, who was supposed to miss the rest of the season after breaking his left foot Feb. 11, returned and played briefly in the third quarter. He had a rebound and two fouls and missed two shots. While he was in, Milwaukee outscored Boston 9-2.
The first half featured a series of runs, with the Celtics leading by as many as nine. But they led by just two at halftime and the Bucks came out strong with their big run, pushing to a 16-point lead with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
The Celtics had the deficit down to 11 and missed the final shot of the third quarter.
In the second quarter, the Celtics went on a 10-0 run to lead by eight, but the Bucks quickly reeled off eight in a row to tie it.
NOTES: Sullinger entered Friday’s game midway through the third quarter. “I don’t know how much he’ll be able to play, nor do I have many plans on playing him, to be honest,” coach Brad Stevens said before the game. “He’ll be available if we need him.” Sullinger, whose conditioning has been questioned, says he has dropped 20 pounds. … Milwaukee G Michael Carter-Williams, who is from nearby Hamilton, Mass., acknowledged experiencing an adjustment period after being acquired from Philadelphia. “It was the first time I’ve ever been traded,” he said Friday. “I didn’t know how to handle things. I was still having some feelings toward me leaving my old teammates.” … G Avery Bradley was named the winner of the Red Auerbach true Celtic award. … G Evan Turner on Wednesday became the fifth Celtics player with three triple-doubles in the same season since the stat was first kept in 1979.