NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Jrue Holiday frustrated former teammate Zion Williamson like few NBA guards can and drained a momentum-changing, late-game shot for good measure.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 42 points and 10 rebounds, Holiday capped his 18-point, 11-assist performance by hitting a three with 1:17 to go, and the Milwaukee Bucks held off a late New Orleans surge to beat the Pelicans 128-119 on Monday night.
Brook Lopez mixed in four three-pointers with opportunistic play in the paint to score 30 points for the Bucks, who led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter before the Pelicans went on a 22-7 run and pulled to 117-114 on CJ McCollum’s fadeaway.
Shortly after Holiday made his big shot, he set up Lopez’s cutting layup to virtually ensure New Orleans’ fourth straight loss on the heels of its seven-game winning streak.
Milwaukee, which has won 10 of 13, maintained a double-digit lead for long stretches while frustrating Williamson for much of the game.
Guarded primarily by Holiday, with Lopez and Antetokounmpo rotating in behind to protect the rim, Williamson was limited to nine points through the first three quarters.
He scored nine in the final 12 minutes to finish with 18 points.
Williamson’s annoyance was evident when he was assessed a technical foul while speaking angrily to official John Conley in the third quarter. Jonas Valanciunas scored a season-high 37 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for New Orleans, but he hit just one of his career high-tying seven three-pointers in the second half.
McCollum scored 31 for New Orleans, which lost at home for the first time in eight games.
With multiple Bucks defenders trying to wall off Williamson from the basket early, the ball tended to find Valanciunas open on the perimeter.
The Lithuanian big man hit six of eight three-point attempts and scored 28 points in the first half.
Antetokounmpo, returning from left knee soreness, scored 26 in the first half on shots ranging from a three, to a Eurostep layup amid a crowd of defenders, to a soaring alley-oop dunk.