Bucks top Kings on Lillard’s OT buzzer beater; Brown explains fiery ejection

Kings coach Mike Brown fought for his players and then his players fought for him, but a spirited comeback came up short when Dame called game.

Damian Lillard buried a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Milwaukee Bucks a 143-142 overtime win over the Kings on Sunday at Fiserv Forum. Lillard tapped his wrist as a sellout crowd of 17,612 erupted around him, signaling Dame Time in Milwaukee.

“Any time your group feels good about what you do at the end of a game, it feels great,” Lillard said. “They’ve been telling me, I’ve had a few moments, not any game winners, but I’ve had some big shots at the end of some games, and they’re like, ‘Man, you didn’t even tap your wrist.’ I keep telling them, ‘Man, if you look over the course of my career, I didn’t just every game tap my wrist. I do it when it’s necessary and tonight it was necessary.”

Brown was ejected in the fourth quarter when he angrily confronted an official who missed an obvious foul on Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox. During his postgame news conference, Brown used a laptop computer and video replays to explain why he was so upset with officials, but he started by holding himself accountable for his actions.

“Tough loss,” Brown said. “The first thing I’d like to do is apologize to my team for putting them in a deeper hole than we were already in, getting kicked out. I’ve got to learn how to keep my composure.”

Lillard scored 29 points for the Bucks (28-12), who have won 15 in a row against the Kings dating back to 2016. Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) scores the game-winning 3-point basket at the end of overtime against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) scores the game-winning 3-point basket at the end of overtime against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Fox scored a game-high 32 points for the Kings (23-16), who haven’t won in Milwaukee since Nov. 25, 2015. Fox, the reigning Clutch Player of the Year, scored with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.

Domantas Sabonis had 21 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists, posting his 10th triple-double of the season and his fifth in the past nine games. Sabonis joined Wilt Chamberlain and Nikola Jokic as the only centers in NBA history to post 10 or more triple-doubles in multiple seasons.

Malik Monk came off the bench to score 28 points for Sacramento, but he missed two free throws that would have put the Kings up by six with 18.1 seconds remaining in overtime. Monk took to social media to take responsibility after the game, tweeting: “My fault Sac!! I’ll be better.”

Kings guard Kevin Huerter returned to the starting lineup after missing Friday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers due to a right ankle sprain. Huerter, who has been mired in the worst shooting slump of his career, looked like his old self with 26 points and 10 rebounds, going 10 of 14 from the field and 6 of 9 from 3-point range. It was his first 20-point game since Nov. 28 against the Golden State Warriors.

Antetokounmpo was cleared to play despite a right shoulder contusion, but three-time All-Star Khris Middleton was ruled out due to right knee injury management.

The Kings got off to a hot start despite a game-time temperature of minus-2 degrees in Milwaukee. They led 37-32 at the end of the first quarter after shooting 51.9% from the field while making 7 of 12 (.583) from 3-point range.

The Kings have struggled against a number of teams with superior size and length this season. Brown tried to combat that against the Bucks, closing out the first quarter with a supersized lineup of Monk, Keegan Murray, Trey Lyles, Sabonis and Alex Len.

The Kings maintained a slight lead until Cameron Payne hit a pullup jumper to tie the game midway through the second quarter. The Bucks went up 57-54 on a 3-pointer by AJ Green and carried an 86-66 lead into the halftime break.

Sacramento moved the ball beautifully in the opening half, tallying 20 assists on 26 made baskets with only two turnovers. The Kings shot 48.1% and knocked down 9 of 20 (.450) from 3-point range, but the Bucks hit 62.9% from the field and 8 of 14 (.571) from beyond the arc.

The Kings lost a key player when the team announced Murray would not return in the second half due to right hip irritation. Lyles started the second half in place of Murray, who finished with four points on 2-of-9 shooting in 19 minutes.

There were four ties and six lead changes in the third quarter before the Bucks staged a late 9-0 run to take a 95-88 lead. Monk hit a big 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four going into the fourth quarter.

The Kings were trailing by 10 when Brown was ejected with 9:27 remaining. Brown was furious after officials failed to call Payne for a clear foul on Fox. Brown stormed onto the floor to confront first-year official Intae Hwang. Lyles and Monk moved in to restrain Brown, but it was too late to prevent him from being ejected.

“I know David Guthrie and Brian Forte — great guys, great officials,” Brown said. “I don’t really know Intae well, but he seems like a good guy. They’re human and they all make mistakes.”

Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown is restrained by guard Malik Monk (0) as he argues with referee Intae Hwang in the fourth quarter Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown is restrained by guard Malik Monk (0) as he argues with referee Intae Hwang in the fourth quarter Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024, at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Lead assistant Jordi Fernandez took over following Brown’s departure with the Kings trailing by 12 after two technical free throws by Malik Beasley. Huerter made three 3-pointers in a span of 1:53 to spark a 16-8 run as Sacramento rallied to cut the deficit to four. Milwaukee maintained a slight lead until Fox drove the length of the floor for a game-tying layup with 2.1 seconds remaining to force overtime.

The Kings led 134-128 with 2:57 to play, but the Bucks responded with a 9-2 run to go ahead 137-136. A 3-pointer by Huerter and a jumper by Monk put Sacramento up 141-137 with 33.2 seconds remaining, but Monk missed two free throws and Fox missed another, setting the stage for Lillard’s heroics.

“Jordi Fernandez did a hell of a job as well as those players on the floor did a hell of a job,” Brown said. “Fighting back from 11 or 12 or whatever they fought back from, that was a hell of a job for them to give ourselves a chance. Obviously, we missed free throws. At the end of overtime, we missed three free throws that could have put the game away probably for us, and then we should have been up the floor trying to blitz Dame, trying to make him take a tougher shot at the end of the game than the one that he hit to win it, so we made some mistakes down the stretch that could have changed the outcome of the game.”

Brown went on to explain that his frustration with officials stemmed from a number of calls throughout the game, not just the missed foul on Fox in the fourth quarter.

“I just want to show you guys why I got kicked out of the game,” Brown said before beginning his video presentation.

Brown pointed specifically to three plays. The first was a Brook Lopez foul on Monk late in the first half that was overturned upon review.

“At the half, we were down I think 19-5 in free throws,” Brown said. “I know that happens sometimes, but that’s very frustrating when, at the end of the half, Malk drives, Lopez comes over and goes vertical with the forearm down here (in the body). Now, from what the NBA tells me, if you go vertical you’ve got to have two hands up. Because Domas has his hand down here a lot and they call him for it every time, and they always tell us, ‘Well, he got a forearm here,’ and tonight they said the forearm can be here as long as it’s not extended, so I don’t know what the rules are in this situation.

“I need a clarification because, again, two hands up is what the rule is on verticality, but they were here and they said Lopez could do this. That’s a five-point swing. They take away the two free throws and then Milwaukee goes down and hits a 3, and to end the half at 19-5, that’s tough to deal with, especially when you’re getting told different interpretations on a rule.”

Brown also mentioned a call that went against Fox late in the third quarter, sending Lillard to the line for three free throws.

“You can go back and watch,” Brown said. “Fox barely puts his hand on Dame’s hip, OK, incidental contact. He didn’t push him or anything. He barely puts his hand on there, and they give him three free throws. … Now, watch this, the kid, Cam Payne, hooks (Fox), hooks his arm. Look at Fox’s arm when he spins off of this. Hooks his arm. He almost falls. No incidental contact. He hooks his arm and almost falls and there’s no foul.

“To me, as a coach … I’m OK as a coach because the referees are human and they’re going to make mistakes, but you just hope: A) There’s some sort of consistency; B) There’s some sort of communication between the refs. Tonight, the refs were great. They communicated with me all night, but in terms of the consistency, you guys saw it right here. Dame coming off the pick-and-roll and Foxy getting hooked and almost falling coming off the pick-and-roll. On top of that, if you get communication and you get some form of consistency in the game, then you can live with some things, but the consistency in my opinion wasn’t there tonight.”

Up next

The Kings will conclude a five-game road trip when they face the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday at Footprint Center.

The Suns (20-18) were coming off a 127-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers going into Sunday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Bradley Beal scored 37 points in the win over the Lakers.

The Kings are 2-0 against the Suns this season. They earned a 114-106 win on Dec. 8 in Phoenix and a 120-105 victory on Dec. 22 in Sacramento.

Upcoming schedule

Jan. 16 at Phoenix Suns

Jan. 18 vs. Indiana Pacers

Jan. 22 vs. Atlanta Hawks

Jan. 25 at Golden State Warriors

Jan. 27 at Dallas Mavericks

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