The win put the Celtics at least in a temporary tie for first place with Toronto, which played later Tuesday at Golden State. But in the Atlantic Division, which currently doesn't have a team with a winning record, the standings aren't all that impressive.
"We're 8-12. It's not like we're lighting the world on fire," Stevens said.
The Celtics led by as many as 15 points and had a 13-point lead in the final period cut to three twice before holding on for the win.
"I felt we were right there. They just made the tough shots," Milwaukee coach Larry Drew said. "They made the plays down the stretch and we did not."
Giannis Antetokounm pulled Milwaukee within 69-65 with an alley-oop dunk to open the fourth quarter. Crawford answered for Boston with a 3-pointer, starting the Celtics on a 15-6 run that nearly put a comeback out of reach for Milwaukee. Lee followed his 3-pointer with a jumper to put the Celtics up 81-71, then Crawford hit a 3-pointer to put Boston up 84-71 with 7:51 left.
The Bucks got back in it with a 13-4 run, pulling within 90-87 on a pair of free throws by John Henson, then made another charge late in the period for a close finish. Knight's 3-pointer with 1:10 remaining cut Boston's lead to 99-96, but Sullinger answered at the other end, beating the shot clock with a jumper that put Boston back up 101-96.
Stevens said he put Sullinger in a bad position with the play, but the young forward beat a double-team and got the shot when the Celtics needed it.
"It's a good player making a good play and bailing out a bad coach," Stevens said.
Knight missed everything on another 3-point attempt for Milwaukee and the Celtics held on to win it.
Two of the Bucks' three wins this season have come against the Celtics. ... Caron Butler (knee) missed his third straight game for the Bucks. ... Boston rookie Kelly Olynyk (sprained right ankle) did not dress. ... The Celtics committed just one turnover in the first quarter. ... Milwaukee was playing the first of back-to-back nights. The Bucks host Detroit on Wednesday. ... Kris Humphries and Sullinger pulled down eight rebounds apiece.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 3: Jared Sullinger #7 of the Boston Celtics shoots against the Milwaukee Bucks on December...
MVP: Milwaukee kept coming at Boston, but in the end, there was too much Jordan Crawford for the Bucks to handle. He tossed in 25 points on 14 shots, went 4-for-7 from 3-point range and dished out five assists.
X factor: Both teams were fiery hot from 3-point range, as Boston shot 45 percent to Milwaukee's 44 percent. Brandon Knight hit a late bomb which brought the Bucks within 5, but Crawford and Avery Bradley both responded with treys to seal the win.
That was ... Larry Bird-esque: With 6:26 left in the first quarter, Bradley hit a shot generally reserved for backyard games of H-O-R-S-E -- falling out of bounds behind the basket while tossing the ball high over the backboard and in.