Antetokounmpo powers Bucks past Hornets for 50th win

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered for Milwaukee once again, and Brook Lopez got going inside.

It was too much for Charlotte to overcome.

Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and the Bucks beat the Hornets 131-114 on Saturday night for their NBA-best 50th victory.

Lopez added 25 points and eight rebounds as Milwaukee used a second-half surge to knock out Charlotte. It’s just the second 50-win season in the past 30 years for the Bucks (50-16), who went 52-30 during the 2000-01 season and reached the Eastern Conference finals.

“We have great belief in one another,” Lopez said. “We can just play so many different ways.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts after making a shot. – AP

The Bucks went 17 for 44 from three-point range and placed six players in double figures. Malcolm Brogdon and reserve Nikola Mirotic each scored 18 points, and Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Bledsoe had 11 points apiece.

Kemba Walker paced Charlotte (30-36) with 25 points, and reserve Frank Kaminsky had 16.

Charlotte, which has bothered Milwaukee with its switching defense this season, opened a 14-point lead in the second quarter before the Bucks closed to 59-55 at halftime.

Milwaukee responded with a 39-point outburst in the third quarter to grab a 94-87 lead. Lopez had 18 points in the period on five-for-six shooting. His only miss came on a three-point attempt.

“The game was in the balance right there,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “We were stretching them out with Frank as the five, and they went inside to Lopez. You’ve got to give them credit.”

Antetokounmpo credited the hustle of DiVincenzo with helping the Bucks snap out of their first-half funk. The rookie from Villanova was playing just his second game since returning from a heel injury that sidelined him for 22 games.

“Usually it takes a couple games to get back into the rhythm and get back in basketball shape,” Antetokounmpo said. “He had three rebounds in a row.

“He kept us in the game and kept our energy really high. He was amazing tonight. He knocked down shots and was all over the place.”