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Antetokounmpo’s big night helps Bucks trounce Spurs

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 14 rebounds in just 24 minutes as the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a 130-94 victory over the San Antonio Spurs yesterday.

The Bucks extended their Eastern Conference advantage to two-and-a-half games over the Boston Celtics as they prepare for a four-game road swing that includes a match-up on Sunday with the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets.

“I’ve never in my career believed in seeding, but we’re number one right now, we should just take it,” Antetokounmpo said. “We should just keep on building good habits, take it and maybe it helps us in a playoff run.”

Antetokounmpo rested the entire fourth quarter and watched the Bucks put the finishing touches on their most lopsided win of the season.

“They’ve got their culture down,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They’re confident. They know they can do it if they play the right way, which they do most of the time. Tonight was a good example. I’d love to be able to play them every night. It would be great for our young kids to see how it gets done and how mistakes are made and what’s important.”

Bobby Portis and Khris Middleton added 19 points each for the Bucks, who never trailed. Middleton also had 10 assists, while Portis had 10 rebounds.

Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo drive past San Antonio Spurs’ Jeremy Sochan. PHOTO: AP

Devin Vassell scored 16 points to lead the Spurs.

San Antonio was playing for a second straight night and was missing leading scorer Keldon Johnson for a second consecutive game due to a neck strain. The Spurs also didn’t have usual starter Tre Jones, who was out with a sore left foot after playing on Wednesday in a 119-84 loss at New Orleans.

After trailing by 13 in the first quarter, San Antonio got within two points a couple of times in the second period. But after Keita Bates-Diop’s three-point play cut Milwaukee’s lead to 51-49 with 2:41 left in the second, the Bucks outscored the Spurs 15-2 to close the first half.

That spurt included consecutive dunks by Antetokounmpo, the first coming on a putback and the second on an alley-oop from Middleton. Milwaukee capped the run with three-pointers from Pat Connaughton and Joe Ingles, who beat the buzzer with his shot from the corner in front of the Bucks’ bench.

The Bucks then poured it on in the second half.

“They’ve got young guys who play hard, so we knew obviously coming into it they were going to do that – play hard, play the right way,” said Ingles, who scored 14 points and shot four of six from three-point range.

“We had some turnovers early. I think in the third and fourth, we started to get some more stops, made some more shots and obviously were able to push that lead out a little bit.”

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