NBA regular season

Damian Lillard scores 40 as Bucks streak past Wembanyama-less Spurs


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Damian Lillard scores 40 as Bucks streak past Wembanyama-less Spurs

LAYUP. Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) drives to the basket against the Houston Rockets in the first half at Fiserv Forum.

Michael McLoone/USA TODAY Sports/REUTERS

Damian Lillard and the Milwaukee Bucks make light work of the Victor Wembanyama-less San Antonio Spurs, who dropped their 20th game in the last 21

Damian Lillard poured in a season-high 40 points, 19 in the first quarter, as the host Milwaukee Bucks roared out of the gate and beat the short-handed San Antonio Spurs 132-119 on Tuesday (Wednesday, December 20, Manila time).

Milwaukee has won five straight games while the hapless Spurs dropped their 20th game in the past 21. San Antonio played without rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama (right ankle) for just the second time this season.

The Bucks dominated the first seven minutes and never looked back, leading by 13 points at halftime and by 24 late in the third quarter — never seriously challenged in the fourth quarter. San Antonio missed 13 of its first 14 shots.

Bobby Portis added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, with Khris Middleton hitting for 17 points, Brook Lopez scoring 14 and recording six blocks and Giannis Antetokounmpo racking up 11 points, 14 rebounds and a season-high 16 assists.

Keldon Johnson led San Antonio with 28 points and 12 rebounds. Zach Collins scored 22 points, Devin Vassell 17, Tre Jones 14 and Cedi Osman 10. Jeremy Sochan came close to a triple-double, with nine points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Milwaukee took charge early on, scoring 21 of the first 24 points. A 19-1 run was capped by Portis’ put-back layup at the 5:19 mark of the opening quarter. Lillard’s pull-up 3-pointer punctuated his 19-point first quarter and gave the Bucks a 44-26 lead after a period of play.

After that initial surge by Milwaukee, the Spurs played the rest of the half almost even.

The Bucks pushed their lead to 22 points early in the second period before San Antonio swung back, cutting the deficit to just 13 after Vassell’s 3-pointer with 4:15 to play and then to 72-59 at the break after Jones hit a running layup with 27 seconds remaining.

Lillard’s 24 first-half points led all scorers while Portis pitched in with 17 off the bench and Antetokounmpo added 10 points and nine rebounds. Collins and Jones led the Spurs with 12 points each.

San Antonio pulled to within eight points early in the third quarter before the Bucks reasserted themselves. –

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