LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrated his 25th birthday by leading the Bucks to a crushing 119-91 NBA victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds – but even when he was on the bench the Bucks out-scored the Clippers by 21 points.
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.
Eastern Conference leaders Milwaukee led by as many as 40 points 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 couldn’t prevent the Bucks from claiming a 14th straight victory.
The blowout bucked a trend of close finishes 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.
The win was more good news for the Warriors, whose star Stephen Curry underwent planned surgery on his broken left hand to remove pins placed in an initial operation to treat the October injury.
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.
After Chicago’s Zach Lavine missed a three-pointer in the waning seconds, Green grabbed the rebound and clutched the ball for several seconds as teammates congratulated Robinson in the wake of the team’s second win in nine games.
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 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.
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.
Griffin finished with 25 points for the Pistons, who also had 25 points, 22 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots from Andre Drummond.