Giannis has 34 points, 17 rebounds as Bucks top Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had the strength and savvy to outshine rookie sensation Zion Williamson in the latest double-digit triumph for the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks.

Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 17 rebounds, and the Bucks defeated New Orleans 120-108 yesterday.

“He’s the former MVP,” Williamson said when asked about his first experience playing against Antetokounmpo. “It’s like going up against any great player; you do as much as you can to slow him down.”

The Pelicans struggled to slow Antetokounmpo, as have many teams this season — especially recently. The Greek star now has at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in each of his past four games.

Antetokounmpo also was a factor on defence. While he usually defends off the ball, coming in late for block attempts or rebounds, he had chances in New Orleans to guard Williamson and even dynamic wing player Brandon Ingram.

“I take pride in that, and whenever I have an opportunity to guard a guy 1-on-1, I like it,” said Antetokounmpo, whose defensive highlights included catching Williamson from behind on a fast break and swatting his shot out of bounds.

On offence, Antetokounmpo’s physical dominance was on full display when he transferred the ball from his left to right hand and flipped it in off the glass as Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday pulled forcefully on his left arm in an attempt to stop him from scoring by fouling.

Khris Middleton scored 20 for the Bucks, who trailed 61-58 at halftime but broke loose for 42 points in the third quarter, when they led by as many as 19.

Ingram scored 32 points and Williamson had 20 for the Pelicans, who briefly got as close as seven twice in the fourth quarter before the Bucks stemmed the tide and improved to 20-4 away from home this season.

“Good win on the road,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We liked the way our defence got better as the game went on.”

Milwaukee defended Williamson aggressively, constantly rejecting or fouling him with multiple defenders and often knocking him to the floor.

“We put a lot of guys, a lot of different looks to him,” Antetokounmpo said. “Just tried to make him guess, just tried to make it tough as possible. You know he’s going to try to go left, try to overpower whoever’s guarding him, try to go finish strong, and guys behind have got to be active.”

It seemed to pay off. Williamson was five-of-19 shooting with four turnovers, and New Orleans was minus-11 with him on the court.

“It was very physical,” Williamson said. “It was one of those nights where I couldn’t get my second-jump layup to fall. It was very frustrating.”