NBA regular season

Giannis-led Bucks sail to victory over shorthanded Nets


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Giannis-led Bucks sail to victory over shorthanded Nets

BARRELING. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) is fouled by Brooklyn Nets forward Jalen Wilson (22) in front of guard Armoni Brooks (13) during the second half at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the Milwaukee Bucks to a 144-122 rout of the Brooklyn Nets, who decided to rest their entire starting lineup

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 32 points to lead seven Milwaukee players in double figures as the Bucks pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 144-122 victory over the shorthanded Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday (Thursday, December 28, Manila time) in New York.

Antetokounmpo dominated inside and made 10 of 12 shots to help Milwaukee reach 140 points for the fifth time this season. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and had eight assists as the Bucks won for the eighth time in nine games.

Khris Middleton added a season-high 27 for Milwaukee. He put up at least 20 points for the third straight game and the fifth time this season as his minutes continue to increase following offseason knee surgery. In 32 minutes, he shot 11-for-18 and also handed out a season-best 10 of Milwaukee’s season-high 41 assists.

Cameron Payne added 18 and Malik Beasley added 17 after going scoreless in the Bucks’ Monday loss to the New York Knicks. The duo hit five 3-pointers apiece as Milwaukee sank 23 treys to tie a season best.

Bobby Portis contributed 14, Damian Lillard chipped in 12 and MarJon Beauchamp had 11 for the Bucks, who shot 58.4 percent from the floor.

After struggling to get a six-point win Tuesday in Detroit, Brooklyn sat Cameron Johnson (knee injury maintenance), Nic Claxton (ankle injury maintenance), Spencer Dinwiddie (rest) and Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee soreness).

Starters Mikal Bridges, Royce O’Neale and Cam Thomas also sat for the final three quarters after combining for 17 points.

Rookie Jalen Wilson led Brooklyn with career highs of 21 points and 10 rebounds, but the Nets lost for the sixth time in eight games. Trendon Watford added 17 points and Dennis Smith Jr. contributed 14 for the Nets, who shot 44.6 percent and misfired on 25 of 32 3-point tries.

The first quarter produced 12 lead changes but the Bucks sank seven treys and held a 32-31 lead. Middleton scored 10 points in the second, and Milwaukee took a 66-59 lead on Beasley’s 3-pointer right before the halftime buzzer.

Brooklyn grabbed a 79-78 edge on a 3-pointer by Keon Johnson with 5:21 remaining in the third. The Nets trailed 88-86 before the Bucks ended the period with a 14-6 spurt and took an eight-point lead on Payne’s trey with 15.4 seconds left.

Middleton’s off-balance 3-pointer and Beauchamp’s one-handed dunk pushed the lead to 107-94 early in the fourth. Milwaukee extended the margin to 123-108 on Payne’s triple with 5:53 left and clinched the win nearly two minutes later on an Antetokounmpo dunk. –

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