Antetokounmpo scores 29 as Bucks cruise past Nets
The Milwaukee Bucks, led by 29 points from reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, ran roughshod over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, improving their league-leading record with a 117-97 victory.
Antetokounmpo added 12 rebounds in the victory, the Bucks’ sixth straight.
Milwaukee improved to 38-6 and lead the Miami Heat by 7 1/2 games in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks led 57-42 at half-time and stretched the advantage to 93-71 heading into the final period.
Khris Middleton added 20 points for the Bucks, who had six players score in double figures.
Kyrie Irving led the Nets with 17 points, but Brooklyn never really looked like stopping the Bucks, who connected on 50.6 percent of their shots from the field, including 17 of 37 three-point attempts.
They held the Nets to 33.3 percent shooting, and never trailed after the opening minutes.
The Los Angeles Clippers launched a six-game road trip with a 133-130 victory over the Pelicans in New Orleans.
With forward Paul George out for a fifth straight game with a hamstring strain, Kawhi Leonard continued his red-hot scoring pace, delivering 39 points for the Clippers — who trailed by 10 points late in the third quarter.
Leonard has now scored at least 30 points in each of his past five games.
Lou Williams scored 14 of his 32 points in the final period, when the Clippers out-scored the Pelicans 31-20.
Williams put the Clippers up 133-127 with a three-pointer with 31.6 seconds remaining.
JJ Redick responded with a three and Leonard missed, but Redick’s attempt at a game-tying three-pointer bounced off the rim.
Center Derrick Favors led the Pelicans with 22 points. Brandon Ingram added 21, Redick chipped in 19 and Lonzo Ball scored 18 in a triple-double that also included 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
The Clippers, third in a Western Conference race led by the cross-town rival Lakers, improved to 30-13 with their third straight win.
The Pelicans, who came into the contest having won four of their past five, will hope to see their fortunes improve further with the addition on Wednesday of number one draft pick Zion Williamson, whose NBA regular-season debut was delayed by right knee surgery in October.