NBA regular season

Antetokounmpo, Lillard combine for 65 as Bucks edge Cavaliers


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Antetokounmpo, Lillard combine for 65 as Bucks edge Cavaliers

BULLY BALL. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers guard Max Strus (1) during the second half at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

The Milwaukee Bucks lean on their usual stars to stave off the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by their returning leader Donovan Mitchell

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 34 points and Damian Lillard added 31 to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 119-111 win over the host Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night (Saturday, December 30, Manila time).

Antetokounmpo also grabbed 16 boards while Malik Beasley added 15 points thanks to five 3-pointers. Khris Middleton contributed 13 points and 11 assists as the Bucks won for the ninth time in 10 games.

Cleveland was led by Donovan Mitchell, who returned after missing four games with an illness and contributed 34 points and nine assists. Jarrett Allen added 30 points and 12 boards. Craig Porter Jr. came off the bench to score all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter, and Max Strus wound up with 12 points.

The biggest factor in the game was the Cavaliers’ poor 3-point shooting: 6 of 43 (14 percent).

Cleveland led for nearly all of the first half, shooting 63 percent in the first quarter with Allen scoring 16 points in the first 12 minutes.

The Bucks drew closer in the second with a 10-0 run after being down by as much as 15, but the Cavaliers went into the break with a 59-52 advantage.

Notably, they did so despite shooting 3-for-22 (13.6 percent) from beyond the arc in the half. Milwaukee committed 11 turnovers before the break.

Milwaukee took over in the third quarter. The Bucks outscored Cleveland 40-21 in the period and went into the fourth with a 92-80 lead as the Cavaliers continued to miss from deep.

In the fourth, momentum went back and forth as Cleveland cut into the deficit. With 6:43 to go, the Cavaliers were within six points, and they sliced it to four with 56.8 seconds to play on a Porter 3-pointer.

Strus missed a 3-point attempt that would have pulled Cleveland within one with 22.2 seconds left.

Milwaukee sealed the outcome at the free-throw line, with Middleton hitting two and Antetokounmpo grabbing a key rebound and knocking down two more.

The Cavaliers shot 47.6 percent from the floor while Milwaukee shot 51.2 percent. –

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