NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 37 points and the Milwaukee Bucks improved their league-leading record with a 128-102 romp past the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
Antetokounmpo was ruthless in leading the 36-6 Bucks to a fourth straight victory, connecting on 12 of 17 shots and 10 of 12 from the free throw line while grabbing nine rebounds with four assists and a blocked shot.
He did it all in just over 21 minutes on the court as the Bucks, who never trailed and led by as many as 35, turned things over to their reserves in the fourth quarter.
“I’m just trying to do my job, just trying to be aggressive, make plays,” Antetokounmpo said.
The victory was the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks’ 13th of the season by 20 or more points.
Coach Mike Budenholzer was pleased to see the Bucks maintain their focus against the lowly Knicks, who dropped their sixth straight.
“The way we came out it’s a good sign for us,” he said of a Bucks team on pace for a 70-win season. “The focus of the guys is impressive.”
Kawhi Leonard impressed in Los Angeles, scoring 43 points in less than 29 minutes on court to lead the Clippers to a 128-103 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Clippers led by as many as 36 points on the way to their 28th win of the season.
Leonard scored 14 points in the second quarter as the Clippers pulled away. He connected on 14 of 22 shots from the floor with six three-pointers before sitting out the entire fourth quarter.
The Utah Jazz continued to roll in the right direction with a 10th straight win – 118-107 over the Nets in Brooklyn.
Aussie guard Joe Inglis scored a career-high 27 points and Rudy Gobert added 22 points and 18 rebounds for the Jazz, who improved to 28-12 and are five games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for top spot in the Western Conference.
Ingles hit 10 of 14 shots and made six of eight from beyond the arc, tying his career-high for field goals.
Donovan Mitchell tallied 25 points – 14 of them in the fourth quarter.
Kyrie Irving, playing his second game since missing nearly two months with a shoulder injury, led all scorers with 32 points and dished out 11 assists, but the Nets were unable to win a third straight game.
The Jazz won their 15th game in their last 16. Sitting at 13-11 on December 9, the Jazz have since averaged more than 115 points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field.
“Obviously we’re on the right track and it’s fun to play at the moment,” Ingles said.
The Memphis Grizzlies could say the same after beating the Houston Rockets 121-110 for their sixth straight win.
Rookie point guard Ja Morant scored 26 points and handed out eight assists for Memphis.
Morant drained 10 of his 11 shots from the field, three of four from three-point range, as the Grizzlies withstood a 41-point performance from Rockets star James Harden to win the back-and-forth battle.
“I was just hungry, man,” Morant said. “We needed this win.”
Eric Gordon added 23 points for the Rockets, who were without a resting Russell Westbrook.
There was another painful defeat for the once-mighty Golden State Warriors, who saw reserve guard Jacob Evans go down hard after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face.
Dwight Powell scored 21 points and Luka Doncic added 20 to lead the visiting Dallas Mavericks to a 124-97 victory over the Warriors – who lost their ninth straight.
Powell caught Evans with an elbow in the second quarter as Evans tried to challenge a lob to the Dallas big man.
After lying on the court for several minutes Evans was helped off the court and the Warriors said he was taken to hospital for medical evaluation.
It was one more injury for a Warriors team already trying to make do without injured stars Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.