Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrated his 25th birthday with 27 points Friday in the Bucks’ crushing 119-91 NBA victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo scored also pulled down 11 rebounds, but it was a superb effort by his supporting cast that made for the mammoth margin of victory.
Five other Bucks players scored in double figures, with starting forward Khris Middleton contributing 17 and Pat Connaughton and Eran Ilyasova adding 13 apiece off the bench.
“We’re just playing great right now, playing good basketball,” Antetokounmpo said after the Bucks’ 14th straight victory.
“Doesn’t matter if we’ve got two wins in a row, 14 wins in a row, we’ve just got to keep playing together and keep being humble.”
Milwaukee led by as many as 40 points at times against a Clippers team expected to challenge for the Western Conference crown.
Kawhi Leonard led the Clippers with 17 points and Paul George added 13, but Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers said his team just wasn’t up for the challenge.
“Giannis’ birthday and we searched all over the city to find a gift — couldn’t find one so we gave him this one,” Rivers said. “That’s all I can come up with … because we were awful.”
The victory moved the Bucks to 20-3, tied for best record in the league with the Los Angeles Lakers, who beat the Trail Blazers 136-113 in Portland.
Anthony Davis scored 39 points and grabbed nine rebounds and LeBron James added 31 points, seven rebounds and eight assists as the Lakers notched their 13th win in 14 games and completed a perfect three-game road trip that also included wins in Denver and Utah.
“It’s great to lock in on a trip and be able to take care of business,” James said. “Win lose or draw we wanted to play Lakers basketball on this road trip and we were able to exceed that.”
The defeat was even more painful for the Blazers with the loss of Rodney Hood, who suffered a torn left Achilles tendon in the first quarter, almost certainly ending his season.
– Late-game drama –
While the league’s top two teams cruised, there was plenty of late-game drama around the league on Friday.
The Golden State Warriors — battling injuries and languishing in last place in the Western Conference after reaching the last five NBA finals — grabbed just their fifth victory of the season, 100-98 over the Bulls in Chicago.
Glenn Robinson led the Warriors with 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Star forward Draymond Green scored just nine, but he contributed four steals in a dynamic defensive effort and it was Green’s lob to Robinson for a dunk that completed the scoring with 1:03 left to play.
“It felt good,” forward Eric Paschall said. “We played the whole game hard, and that’s a big step for us.”
The Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs both won in overtime.
The Thunder out-scored Minnesota 17-5 in the extra period to triumph 139-127 in a game the Timberwolves appeared to have wrapped up in regulation.
Minnesota were up by two when Karl-Anthony Towns went to the free throw line with 1.1 seconds remaining.
After he missed the first of his two free throws the Timberwolves were called for delay of game amid a flurry of substitutions and Danilo Gallinari made the ensuing free throw for the Thunder to trim the deficit to one.
Towns then tried to miss his second free throw, but he made it to give Oklahoma City a chance to inbound the ball.
Thunder center Steven Adams connected with Dennis Schroeder who made a layup to knot the score at 122-122 and force overtime.
– Spurs rally –
In San Antonio, the Sacramento Kings led by nine points with 1:43 left in regulation before the Spurs roared back with an 8-0 scoring run.
Marco Belinelli’s three-pointer as regulation ended tied it at 100-100 to force overtime and the Spurs won 105-104.
In Detroit, Derrick Rose scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and delivered a key assist to Blake Griffin to help the Pistons beat the Indiana Pacers 108-101.
Griffin, fed from under the basket by Rose, broke a 101-101 tie with 41.4 seconds remaining with a three-pointer from the top of the arc.
After Indiana’s Malcolm Brogdon lost the ball, Rose added a floater to stretch the lead to 106-101 and Langston Galloway added a final basket to complete the scoring.