Bucks move up in playoff position at Blazers’ expense

Portland drops full game behind Denver for 8th spot

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PORTLAND — Khris Middleton scored 26 points, and the Milwaukee Bucks held off the Portland Trail Blazers for a 93-90 victory on Tuesday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo added 22 points for the Bucks (35-35), who have won nine of 11 as they jostle for playoff positon in the Eastern Conference. They are a half-game ahead of Miami for the seventh spot.

Portland (32-38) had won three in a row and eight of 10. It dropped to a full game back of idle Denver for the final postseason berth in the West.

Damian Lillard led Portland with 31 points, and CJ McCollum added 21. Jusuf Nurkic had 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Portland trailed by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, but closed to 70-68 early in the fourth on a pair of free throws from Allen Crabbe. McCollum’s consecutive layups gave the Blazers an 88-85 lead with 3:46 left.

The Bucks retook the lead on Middleton’s hook shot, and John Henson’s putback made it 93-90 with 1:39 to go.

As the clock wound down, Lillard missed a 3-pointer and McCollum missed a layup. Middleton also missed on the other end.

Portland got the ball with 6.4 seconds left, but Lillard’s 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the backboard.

Portland was coming off a 115-104 victory at Miami on Sunday. Lillard had a season-best 49 points with nine 3-pointers, which matched a franchise high. The win capped a 4-1 road trip.

Milwaukee was coming off a 117-92 loss at Golden State on Saturday.

The Bucks outscored the Blazers 30-14 in the second quarter for a 48-35 lead at the break.

Portland closed to 65-58 on Lillard’s layup with just under three minutes to go in the third. The Blazers finished the quarter on a 14-4 run to trim the Bucks’ lead to 67-63 heading into the fourth.

Tip-ins

Bucks: Milwaukee’s roster includes Portland native Terrence Jones, signed on March 4 for the rest of the season. Jones played 51 games for New Orleans this season before he was waived. He’s only played sparingly for the Bucks. “He’s a talented young man and he’ll get his chances but right now we’re top-heavy with bigs,” coach Jason Kidd said.

Trail Blazers: Lillard became the first Trail Blazer to make 1,000 career 3-pointers during the victory against the Heat, and the Blazers’ arena announcer recognized the milestone during player introductions on Tuesday night.