Antetokounmpo scores 34 points, Bucks beat Bulls 118-112

  • Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) goes up for a shot against Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 4, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

CHICAGO — Jrue Holiday hit enough big shots down the stretch while keeping DeMar DeRozan in check to help the Milwaukee Bucks squeeze out another tight win. And once again, they did it against a top Eastern Conference team.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 16 rebounds, Holiday came on strong down the stretch to finish with 26 points and Milwaukee beat the Chicago Bulls 118-112 on Friday night.

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The Bucks went from leading by 14 in the second quarter to trailing by seven through three. Holiday went off in the fourth, scoring 16 to help the defending NBA champions pull out another tight win.

“It’s just a feeling and you know you’ve got to turn it on,” Holiday said. “It’s time for us to lock in. It’s time for us to just concentrate, be aggressive and make good plays, smart plays, down the stretch.”

After rallying late from 14 down to beat Miami by one on Wednesday, the Bucks tied Chicago for the Central Division lead with their third straight victory. The toughest stretch of their schedule continues with a home game against NBA-leading Phoenix on Sunday.

“We got to keep it up,” Antetokounmpo said. “If good things are going on, you got to keep waking up the next day and keep learning something new, keep evolving, keep improving.”

Antetokounmpo made 12 of 22 shots and had five assists, helping make up for a 10-for-19 showing at the foul line. Khris Middleton scored 22 points as the Bucks beat Chicago for the 14th time in 15 games.

Zach LaVine led Chicago with 30 points. DeRozan scored 29 points, though he was 11 for 30 from the field.

Nikola Vucevic added 19 points and nine rebounds, but the Bulls lost their fourth straight game.

“I felt like we competed,” DeRozan said. “It came down to the last couple minutes. … They’re defending champs for a reason.”

BUCKS PREVAIL

Chicago led 102-100 after Javonte Green nailed a 3 with six minutes remaining. Milwaukee then scored six straight, with Middleton’s turnaround jumper making it a four-point game with just over four minutes left, and maintained the lead the rest of the way.

LaVine cut it to 112-109 when he drove for a layup with 47 seconds remaining. Antetokounmpo made two free throws before LaVine buried a 3 to pull Chicago within 114-112 with 24.4 seconds left.

A reverse layup by Jevon Carter bumped Milwaukee’s lead to four. The Bucks then won a challenge after Middleton got called for a foul as LaVine attempted a 3. Milwaukee controlled the jump ball, and Holiday made two free throws with 12.5 seconds left.

NO WARM WELCOME

Bucks guard Grayson Allen got booed during introductions and throughout the game for a hard foul that resulted in a broken wrist for Alex Caruso when the teams met Jan. 21 in Milwaukee. Caruso has not played since that game, leaving Chicago without one of its best defenders.

The crowd was delighted when Derrick Jones Jr. knocked Allen to the floor as he drove the baseline early in the fourth quarter. Jones got called for a flagrant foul. And Allen made both free throws.

Jones insisted he’s “not a dirty player” and didn’t think he committed a flagrant foul.

“What happened in Milwaukee, we didn’t like it,” he said. “It’s obvious we didn’t like it. Nobody like that. But I’m not going to go out there and just try to take a man out. That’s not who I am.”

TIP-INS

Bucks: C Brook Lopez is ready to participate in contact drills and five-on-five scrimmages after being sidelined since the season opener because of a back injury that required surgery. “It’s another good, positive step for him on his return to play,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. … Budenholzer said the Bucks hope to get G George Hill (sore neck) back in the next week. He has been sidelined since Jan. 28. … G Pat Connaughton “still has a ways to go” in his recovery from surgery on his right finger, Budenholzer said. Connaughton was hurt fouling Chris Paul on a drive to the basket in a 131-107 loss at Phoenix on Feb. 10. Connaughton was expected to miss four weeks.

Bulls: The Bulls are a combined 0-8 against East-leading Miami, second-place Philadelphia and Milwaukee. … Chicago didn’t attempt a free throw until DeRozan completed a four-point play in the closing minute of the first half. The Bulls made 8 of 11. … LaVine, who missed time recently because of soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, was not listed on the injury report. “He feels fine,” coach Billy Donovan said. “I think if there were any problems, he would talk.”

UP NEXT

Bucks: Host Phoenix on Sunday.

Bulls: At Philadelphia on Monday night.

SUNS 115, KNICKS 114

PHOENIX — Cam Johnson banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to finish with a career-high 38 points and give the Phoenix Suns a wild 115-114 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night.

Johnson’s ninth 3-pointer in 12 tries came from 31 feet at the top of the key. The NBA-leading Suns, playing without All-Star guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker, improved to 51-12.

The Knicks looked as if they were headed for an impressive road win before Julius Randle’s ill-timed ejection in the third quarter in an exchange with Johnson.

New York blew a 14-point lead following Randle’s ejection, but Mitchell Robinson’s layup with 15 seconds left gave the Knicks a 113-112 lead. Alec Burks added a free throw to give the Knicks a 114-112 advantage — but missed his second attempt — giving the Suns an opportunity in the final seconds.

That’s when Johnson capped his huge night with his biggest shot, sinking the long 3-pointer after Cam Payne’s pass. Johnson’s shot was long, but smacked off the glass and through the hoop.

Johnson hit six 3-pointers and scored 21 points in the fourth quarter.

The Knicks — up 86-76 when Randle was tossed — have lost seven straight.

Randle scored 25 points, and Robinson added 17 points and 15 rebounds.

Randle and Johnson were called for technicals after bumping chests and exchanging words. A referee separated the two, but then Randle barreled through the ref to shove Johnson again, which earned the ejection.

Payne finished with 17 points and 16 assists. Mikal Bridges had 20 points.

76ERS 125, CAVALIERS 119

PHILADELPHIA —Tyrese Maxey made five 3-pointers and scored 33 points to lead Philadelphia past Cleveland for its fifth straight victory, 125-119 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

The 76ers improved to 4-0 with James Harden in the lineup. Harden had 25 points and 11 assists. Joel Embiid added 22 points and nine rebounds.

Maxey, though, stole the show. The second-year guard out of Kentucky tore through the Cavaliers in the second half and seemingly turned Embiid and Harden into bystanders. His best sequence came in the fourth. Maxey hit a 3 that gave the Sixers a one-point lead, then he hit a 3 off a pass from Harden on the break that made it 110-106 and had the Philly crowd going wild.

Darius Garland scored 28 points for the Cavaliers. They have lost six of seven.

NUGGETS 116, ROCKETS 101

DENVER — DeMarcus Cousins, starting in place of ailing Nikola Jokic, scored a season-high 31 points and Denver bounced back from a loss to beat Houston.

Jokic, the reigning MVP, was held out because of a non-COVID-19 illness.

JaMychal Green and Jeff Green each added 14 points apiece as Denver shook off a loss to Oklahoma City on Wednesday night for its seventh win in eight games. Will Barton had 11 points, hitting two 3-pointers to become the pass JR Smith as the Nuggets’ career leader with 769.

Christian Wood had 22 points for Houston, and Jalen Green added 18. The Rockets have lost 12 straight.

HAWKS 117, WIZARDS 114

WASHINGTON — De’Andre Hunter scored 26 points and Trae Young added 25 to help Atlanta beat Washington.

The Wizards never led, but they pulled to within one with 5.3 seconds left when Raul Neto made a 3-pointer. Young then made two free throws with 3.7 seconds left. The first three quarters of the game each ended with a buzzer-beater, but Kyle Kuzma’s attempt to tie it from midcourt hit the back of the rim.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 28 points for the Wizards.

PELICANS 124, JAZZ 90

NEW ORLEANS — Brandon Ingram scored 29 points and C.J. McCollum added 24 in New Orleans’ victory over Utah.

In winning their fourth consecutive game since the All-Star break, the Pelicans led by as many as 37 points, 86-49, with 4:08 left in the third quarter. The 37-point deficit was the largest this season for the Jazz.

Donovan Mitchell had 14 points for Utah on 5-of-18 shooting. The NBA’s highest-scoring team shot 35.2%. They had won nine of 10.

TIMBERWOLVES 139, THUNDER 101

OKLAHOMA CITY — Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid each scored 20 points and Minnesota routed Oklahoma City for its third straight victory.

Taurean Prince scored 18 points, D’Angelo Russell had 17 and Jaden McDaniels added 16 for the Timberwolves. They have averaged 131.3 points during the winning streak and have won six of eight overall.

Minnesota’s reserves, led by Reid and Prince, outscored Oklahoma City’s 74-18.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 33 points for Oklahoma City.

MAGIC 103, RAPTORS 97

TORONTO — Cole Anthony had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Chuma Okeke had 10 points and 11 rebounds and Orlando snapped a nine-game losing streak against Toronto.

Mo Bamba scored 14 points, and Jalen Suggs and Gary Harris each had 13 for the Magic. Orlando hadn’t beaten the Raptors since a 113-98 victory in Toronto on Feb. 24, 2019.

The Raptors lost to a 15-win opponent for the second straight night after falling to Detroit on Thursday. Pascal Siakam had 34 points and 14 rebounds for Toronto, and Malachi Flynn scored a season-high 20.

PISTONS 111, PACERS 106

DETROIT — Saddiq Bey scored 25 points, Cade Cunningham had 20 points and nine rebounds and Detroit rallied to beat Indiana.

Marvin Bagley III added 18 points for Detroit. The Pistons have won five of seven, winning at Toronto on Thursday night.

Malcolm Brogdon scored 26 points for Indiana. The Pacers lost for the 10th time in 13 games.

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