Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 10 of his 32 points in overtime to power the Milwaukee Bucks to a 109-105 victory over Philadelphia in an NBA Eastern Conference heavyweight clash Wednesday.
Reigning two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo, ably defended by Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, struggled early, scoring just four points in the first half as the East-leading 76ers built a 45-31 lead.
Philadelphia, again without injured star Joel Embiid, led by as many as 19. But Milwaukee seized a 78-76 lead with 8:18 remaining in regulation.
From there it was a back-and-forth battle until Antetokounmpo scored 10 straight Bucks points in overtime, a run that included a left-handed drive past Simmons and a step-back jump shot over Dwight Howard that put the Bucks up 105-98 with 1:11 left in the extra period.
“We didn’t stop playing, we played great defense,” Antetokounmpo said. “We trusted one another, we didn’t put our head down, we kept our composure.
“We believed in ourselves, and that’s why we were able to come back in the game,” added Antetokounmpo, who added 15 rebounds and five assists, his run of three straight triple-doubles coming to an end.
Tobias Harris led Philadelphia with 19 points and Danny Green added 18 for the Sixers.
Simmons had a triple-double of 13 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists, but the 76ers saw their six-game winning streak end and lost Seth Curry in the fourth quarter with a sprained ankle.
They finished the night tied atop the East with the Brooklyn Nets, who were propelled by James Harden’s 40-point triple-double in a 124-115 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Nets All-Star Kyrie Irving sat out with a sore groin as the Nets continued to await the return of star Kevin Durant from a hamstring strain.
Former NBA MVP Harden filled the void, making 13 of 27 shots from the field and 12 of 14 free throws. His putback layup knotted the score at 96-92 early in the fourth quarter and ignited a 13-4 Nets scoring run.
Harden added 10 rebounds and 14 assists and Joe Harris scored 19 for Brooklyn, who trailed by as many as 16.
“It’s not even about the triple-double, it’s about our effort,” Harden said. “Especially that second half we did an unbelievable job defensively, just getting after it. That’s it.”
Malcolm Brogdon scored 24 points for the Pacers, who had a triple-double from Domantas Sabonis with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.
It was good news for the Nets, after coach Steve Nash said before the game that Durant, while showing “improvement,” remained at least two weeks away from a return.
Curry hurt in Warriors win
“We’re monitoring it and expect him to make a full recovery,” Nash said of Durant, who has been sidelined since February 13. “But he’s probably got a couple weeks of ramp-up left.”
Golden State guard Stephen Curry departed early in the Warriors 108-94 victory over the Rockets in Houston, suffering what the team called a tailbone contusion in a hard sideline fall in the third quarter.
Curry had missed a three-pointer as time ticked down in the third when he stumbled backwards, falling in a seated position.
Clearly in pain, Curry was able to rise and walk gingerly to the locker room. He finished the night with 18 points and eight assists. Jordan Poole led the Warriors with 23 points off the bench. Kelly Oubre added 19 points.
Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox drilled the game-winner for the Kings in Washington, his pull-up jumper over Bradley Beal with seven-tenths of a second remaining delivering a 121-119 victory over the Wizards.
Fox finished with 28 points for the Kings, who withstood 29 points from Beal and a triple-double of 26 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists from Russell Westbrook.
Ja Morant was the star in Memphis, driving the length of the court for a go-ahead layup with 1.2 seconds remaining in the Grizzlies’ 89-85 victory over the Miami Heat.
Memphis’ Kyle Anderson came up with a steal and two free throws to seal a victory that ended Miami’s five-game win streak.
There was no such drama in Dallas, where Mavericks star Luka Doncic scored 42 points in the hosts’ 105-89 victory over the Los angeles Clippers.