Giannis Antetokounmpo drained four clutch baskets down the stretch as the Milwaukee Bucks won their 10th consecutive game with a 119-110 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday.
Milwaukee led by as many as 22 points in the first half but Cleveland chipped away until they closed the gap to just three late in the fourth but that was as close as they would get.
“We did a great job taking the lead in the first half, and we created the gap that saved us,” Antetokounmpo said. “If we didn’t have that gap, we’d probably be ticked off and mad right now.”
Every time the Cavs got within striking distance of levelling the score, Antetokounmpo answered with a basket of his own to help seal the win.
“There’s a reason he’s the reigning MVP and he made some MVP plays tonight,” Cleveland forward Larry Nance said. “There were a couple of times that I did a good job staying between him and the basket, but I’m 6-8 and he’s probably about 7-1 with his wing span.”
Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and also delivered a double-double with a team-high 12 rebounds for the Bucks, who beat the Cavaliers for the second time this season. George Hill chipped in with 18 points, while Khris Middleton had 12, Donte DiVincenzo 11, and Eric Bledsoe and Ersan Ilyasova 10 apiece.
Rookie Darius Garland scored 21 points to pace the Cavaliers, who lost their third straight. Cedi Osman had 20 points, Nance 18, Kevin Love and Collin Sexton 16 apiece, and Tristan Thompson 11 in a balanced Cleveland attack. Thompson collected a game-high 13 rebounds to complete a double-double.
Clippers winning streak snapped
Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 19 points in his second game back in San Antonio since being traded away prior to last season, but it wasn’t enough as the Spurs beat the Los Angeles Clippers 107-97.
Leonard, who joined the Clippers in the offseason after one season with the Toronto Raptors, had 13 points in the first half.
Derrick White and LaMarcus Aldridge scored 17 points and DeMar DeRozan chipped in 15 for the Spurs, who had lost 10 of their last 11 games. JaMychal Green came off the bench to score 16 points for the Clippers, who had their seven game win streak snapped.
San Antonio tied the game 53-53 at the half then compiled a 87-71 lead early in the fourth quarter in a surprising upset.
In Los Angeles, Anthony Davis and LeBron James combined for 49 points as the Los Angeles Lakers won their 10th straight game with a 125-103 demolition of the struggling Washington Wizards.
The Wizards have been one of the league’s worst defensive teams this season, and Davis and James took advantage of that. Davis added 13 rebounds and James finished with 11 assists and they both sat for the fourth quarter as the Lakers moved to the top of the overall league standings.
All of the victories in the Lakers’ latest streak have been against sub-500 teams however, and their upcoming games against Dallas, Denver and Utah – who are all above .500 – may prove more difficult.
Quinn Cook scored 17 points and JaVale McGee had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Also, Norman Powell scored 19 of his career-best 33 points in the third quarter as Toronto recovered from an early 11-point deficit to defeat the Orlando Magic 90-83.
Fred VanVleet added 22 points for the Raptors, who extended their winning streak to six games. Pascal Siakam had 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Raptors, who shot 37 percent from the field. Evan Fournier scored 19 points for the Magic, who had 22 turnovers compared with just 13 by the Raptors.
In Phoenix, Luka Doncic equalled a career high 42 points as the visiting Dallas Mavericks rallied for a 120-113 victory over the Phoenix Suns.