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Giannis powers Bucks in NBA blowout over Sixers

By AFP - Feb 26,2024 - Last updated at Feb 26,2024

Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks during the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Centre on Monday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (AFP photo)

WASHINGTON — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and passed off nine assists to lead the dominant Milwaukee Bucks in a 119-98 NBA victory at Philadelphia on Sunday.

New Bucks coach Doc Rivers collected a victory over his former club, the 76ers having fired Rivers last May after three seasons guiding the franchise. Milwaukee hired Rivers last month to replace fired Adrian Griffin.

Damian Lillard added 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds while Malik Beasley added 20 points as the Bucks hit 43-of-79 shots from the floor (54.4 per cent) and kept the Sixers to 36-of-97 (37.1 per cent) shooting.

Milwaukee, coming off a victory on Friday at Western Conference leader Minnesota, seized a 69-48 half-time lead and stayed in command to the finish despite some second-half stumbles.

“We did a good job of just carrying over from the win we had over Minnesota,” Antetokounmpo said.

“We came out and played hard in the first two quarters. In the third quarter we were a little bit sloppy. We turned the ball over a lot of times. But going into the fourth quarter I think we did our best job just finding one another, making the right plays offensively.

“Defensively the group was there all night. They made some tough threes but whenever they were in the paint we were jumping up clean and we would get the rebound and go the other way.”

The Greek star, a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, hit 10-of-17 from the floor and leads the NBA with 27 30-point, 10-rebound performances this season.

Milwaukee improved to 37-21, third in the Eastern Conference, and Antetokounmpo likes what he sees from the team these days as the Bucks chase a second NBA title in four seasons.

“We’ve got to keep on playing better, got to keep building good habits and just keep playing hard,” he said. “These last two games we’ve played them hard and that’s who we are. When we don’t play hard, we don’t look like the Bucks.”

The Sixers, playing without injured reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid, were led by 24 points from Tyrese Maxey.

At Phoenix, Grayson Allen scored 24 points and Kevin Durant added 22 to lead the host Suns over the Los Angeles Lakers 123-113.

Devin Booker had 21 points, Royce O’Neale added 20 and Jusuf Nurkic contributed 18 points, 22 rebounds and seven assists for the Suns, who improved to 34-24.

LeBron James led the Lakers with 28 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds while Anthony Davis had 22 points and 14 rebounds and D’Angelo Russell added 20 points.

Before playing host to Orlando later Sunday, the Atlanta Hawks announced that leading scorer Trae Young has suffered a torn ligament in his left pinkie finger and will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair the injury, sidelining him for at least the next four weeks.

At 24-32, the Hawks rank 10th in the Eastern Conference.

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