MILWAUKEE – Dejounte Murray was ready for his moment in the fourth quarter.
San Antonio's point guard scored 16 of his 23 points in the final period and the Spurs pulled away in the last few minutes Saturday night for a 102-93 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks that snapped a four-game losing streak.
“I love having the ball, no matter what,” said Murray, who finished with nine assists. “I take pride in being a pass-first point guard, but also being ready when my number is called. I'm thankful for my team to be confident in me, just like I'm confident in them.”
Derrick White added 17 points and Bryn Forbes scored 16 against his former team to help the Spurs (2-4) take down the defending NBA champions on the road.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee (3-3) with 28 points and 13 rebounds but was in foul trouble in the second half. Khris Middleton had 19 points for the Bucks, who lost their second straight home game.
Keldon Johnson's 3-pointer from the corner gave the Spurs a 92-85 lead with 2:22 left, and Murray scored the next five San Antonio points to extend the margin to 97-87 with 1:12 remaining.
“Obviously, it's a good win against the NBA champions,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They were missing a pretty big piece tonight but it happens to all of us.”
Popovich was referring to Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday, who starred for the U.S. team coached by Popovich in the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Holiday missed his third straight game with a left ankle injury.
The Spurs got a key contribution from veteran forward Thaddeus Young, who had 10 points and eight rebounds in 15 minutes off the bench. Young had played only 12 total minutes over the first five games.
“I'm always ready to play,” Young said. "I just put my head down and make sure I put my time into my craft, and trust my work each and every day.
“Obviously it's an unfortunate situation I'm not playing as much. I don't put any pressure on myself because I've been in this league 15 years now. I know what to do when I walk out there.”
The Bucks made just 10 of 39 attempts from 3-point range and shot 40.4% overall (36 of 89).
“It wasn't a pretty game,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.
San Antonio held a slim lead for much of the first half, but a 3-pointer from Middleton and a fast-break dunk by George Hill allowed Milwaukee to tie the score at 34 with seven minutes left in the second quarter.
Milwaukee led 47-45 at halftime despite hitting just 18 of 44 field goals (40.9%) and going only 4 of 20 from 3-point distance. San Antonio made 18 of 50 field goals (36%) and was 5 of 18 on 3s.
Antetokounmpo and Middleton each had 11 points to lead the Bucks in the first half, and Hill added eight. White paced the Spurs with 14 points and Forbes had eight.
RING IS THE THING
Forbes, who played with the Bucks last season, received his championship ring in a short ceremony before the game. He returned to San Antonio on a one-year deal prior to this season. “I'll remember that for the rest of my life. That was something special to me,” Forbes said. “The ring is amazing, too. That ring was huge.” He said he gave it to his mom, who attended the game. “I probably can't wear it around,” he said with a laugh. Forbes averaged 10 points and shot 45.2% from 3-point range with Milwaukee last season, ranking third in the league. He hit seven 3-pointers in Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs against Miami. “What he did against Miami really stands out,” Budenholzer said. “He was a big factor in that series.”
Spurs: Johnson, a third-year pro, also played on the U.S. Olympic team that won the gold medal in Tokyo this summer, and is improving his game. “The Olympic thing was not expected by any of us or by him,” Popovich said. “The competitiveness is seeping out of his pores. He needs more time. The will is there.” Johnson finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds against the Bucks.
Bucks: F Semi Ojeleye was available and Bobby Portis rested so he can play in the second game of a back-to-back set against Utah on Sunday. Both are returning from injuries. Ojeleye played 13 minutes and was 0 for 5 from the field, all on 3-point attempts, and grabbed three rebounds. “We’ve just got to work our way through the weekend and keep them healthy and keep them progressing,” Budenholzer said. ... Holiday (left ankle sprain) should play soon but center Brook Lopez (back soreness) has no timetable to return, Budenholzer said.
Spurs: Play at Indiana on Monday to finish a three-game road swing.
Bucks: End a three-game homestand Sunday against Utah. Milwaukee lost both games to the Jazz last season, including a 129-115 decision in the last meeting at Fiserv Forum in January.
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