Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points as the Milwaukee Bucks downed the Orlando Magic to extend their winning streak to 15 games on Monday and maintain their grip on the Eastern Conference standings.
Antetokounmpo delivered a dominant performance in a 110-101 victory, making 12 of 22 shots from the field while chipping in with 15 rebounds and eight assists.
Khris Middleton had 20 points while Donte DiVincenzo had 12 off the bench as the Bucks improved to 21-3 at the top of the Eastern Conference. The Bucks were in control from the outset, building an 11-point cushion by the end of the first quarter to lead 31-20 and remaining in front for the rest of the game.
Evan Fournier led the Orlando scoring with 26 points, with Terrence Ross adding 23 off the bench.
Antetokounmpo admitted he was delighted with the Bucks’ winning streak.
“It’s amazing. I’m not gonna lie,” he told reporters. “When you go home and sit down and think about it, it’s amazing. And we can still extend it. But at the end of the day, the job’s not done. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to keep working hard and playing well.”
Although the Bucks led almost from start to finish, Antetokounmpo insisted his team had been pushed hard by Orlando.
“Every once in a while, you want games like this,” he said. “It’s good to have close games because you can learn from that, instead of always winning by 20 or 30 points. We got the win, grinded it out.”
Celtics in pursuit
The Boston Celtics remain hard on the heels of the Bucks in the Eastern Conference race, improving to 17-5 after a 110-88 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
The Celtics jumped into a 29-18 lead in the first quarter and kept the throttle down, at one point leading by 29 points. All five Boston starters finished in double figures, with Kemba Walker leading the points tallies with 22.
In Chicago, the NBA champion Toronto Raptors were given a scare before securing a late 93-92 victory against the Bulls.
Pascal Siakam topscored for the Raptors with 22 points, but it was Kyle Lowry who made the winning basket, a layup with 50 seconds remaining that put the Raptors narrowly in front. The win left the Raptors fifth in the Eastern Conference table on 15-7.
In Indianapolis, Paul George returned to haunt his former team as the Los Angeles Clippers scored a 110-99 victory over the Pacers.
George, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Pacers, led the scoring with 36 points as the Clippers improved to 18-7.
The Clippers are second in the Western Conference standings, trailing the leading Los Angeles Lakers by 3.5 games.
In Houston, Nemanja Bjelica sank a three-pointer on the buzzer as the Sacramento Kings upset the Rockets 119-118 in a thrilling Western Conference battle.
Russell Westbrook looked to have given the Rockets the lead after a lay-up with one second of the fourth quarter remaining to put Houston 118-116 ahead.
But Bjelica’s three stunned the home crowd and completed a roller coaster win for the Kings, who improved to 10-13 with the victory.
Buddy Hield led the Sacramento scoring with 26 points, while power forward Bjelica finished with 17 points and Harrison Barnes 19.
Westbrook was Houston’s standout with 34 points, while James Harden added 27 as well as four rebounds and 10 assists.