Antetokounmpo sparks Bucks in Sixers rout, Dallas on brink

Antetokounmpo sparks Bucks in Sixers rout, Dallas on brink
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks drives to the basket against Tobias Harris (12) and P.J. Tucker (17) of the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half of an NBA game at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (AFP)
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Updated 03 April 2023

Antetokounmpo sparks Bucks in Sixers rout, Dallas on brink

Antetokounmpo sparks Bucks in Sixers rout, Dallas on brink
  • LeBron James bagged the 107th triple-double of his career as the Lakers continued their late season resurgence with a 134-109 rout of Rockets

LOS ANGELES: Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points as the Milwaukee Bucks returned to form with a statement 117-104 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

Eastern Conference top seed favorites Milwaukee — routed 140-99 by Boston in their last outing on Thursday — bounced back in style to score an emphatic win over the third-placed Sixers.

Antetokounmpo led a balanced Milwaukee offensive display that saw five players finish in double figures in a wire-to-wire victory at Fiserv Forum.

Antetokounmpo finished with 14 rebounds and six assists in addition to his 33-point haul, while Brook Lopez (21 points), Khris Middleton (19) and Jrue Holiday (18) all contributed.

Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers scoring with 29 points while Joel Embiid added 28.

The win edged Milwaukee closer to sealing top spot in the Eastern Conference.

With four games remaining in the regular season, the Bucks lead the East on 58-22, with Boston second on 54-24.

Philadelphia remain third on 51-27 following Sunday’s loss.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, meanwhile, said Antetokounmpo’s performance confirmed his belief that the Greek star should be the front-runner for the regular season MVP award.

“We certainly feel like Giannis is the MVP,” Budenholzer said. “What he does at both ends of the court — he does everything,” Budenholzer said. “We feel like he’s in the conversation and he should be the guy.”

In other games on Sunday, Western Conference leaders Denver — still missing Nikola Jokic — held on for a tense 112-110 win over the Golden State Warriors.

Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray combined for 55 points as the Nuggets withstood a late Warriors rally to hold on.

Warriors star Klay Thompson missed a last-gasp three-point attempt before a desperate block from Murray thwarted another effort as time ran out.

In Los Angeles, LeBron James bagged the 107th triple-double of his career as the Lakers continued their late season resurgence with a 134-109 romp over the Houston Rockets.

James finished with 18 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, while Anthony Davis led the Lakers scoring with 40 points.

The Lakers third consecutive victory leaves them seventh in the Western Conference, just one spot outside the automatic postseason places.

In Oklahoma City, meanwhile, Kevin Durant scored 35 points against his old club as the Phoenix Suns romped to a 128-118 win over the Thunder.

Shai Gilgeous Alexander scored a game-high 39 points for Oklahoma City, who are 10th in the Western Conference, just one win ahead of the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks’ hopes of forcing their way into the postseason suffered another blow despite a 41-point performance from Kyrie Irving in Atlanta.

A thrilling duel in Atlanta saw the Hawks squeeze home 132-130 in overtime after Irving gave up a costly foul with 1.8 seconds remaining to hand two game-winning free throws to Trae Young.

It was the final act of a nail-biting encounter which saw Irving lead Dallas back from a 15-point deficit to tie the game after a wild ending to regulation where momentum swung back and forth in the closing seconds.

But Irving’s heroics were in vain as he bundled over Young in overtime to give the Atlanta playmaker the chance to win the game that he converted.

Young finished with 24 points and 12 assists while Dejounte Murray led the Hawks scoring with 25 points. Seven Atlanta players finished in double figures.

The victory left Atlanta on course for a place in the play-in tournament with four games of the regular season remaining.

The Hawks are eighth in the East with a 39-39 record.

But Dallas’s hopes are fading fast after another costly defeat that followed Saturday’s loss to Miami.

“We know the situation we’re in — we’re playing catch up,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “We’ve got to find a way to win.

“Right now we’re coming up short when we need to win games. Unfortunately we’re not winning right now.”

Elsewhere Sunday, the New York Knicks assured themselves of a first playoff appearance since 2021 with a 118-109 win over the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden.

Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes scored 27 points apiece while Immanuel Quickley (22 points) and Obi Toppin (21) also came up big for New York.

In other games on Sunday, Chicago staged a stunning comeback from 23 points down to rout the Memphis Grizzlies 128-107 in the Windy City.

Memphis roared into a 68-53 halftime lead but were then blown away after the break as the Bulls poured in 75 second-half points.

Zach LaVine scored 36 points while DeMar DeRozan added 31 to power the Bulls to victory.