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Giannis scores 39 as Bucks top Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo (AP pic below) scored 39 points, and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 142-115 yesterday for their fifth straight win.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer doesn’t want to mess with a good thing. Milwaukee is averaging 128.4 points and shooting 49 per cent from the field during its win streak.

“Just want them to keep playing,” he said. “I don’t want to screw them up.”

Antetokounmpo made 13 of 19 shots and had seven rebounds and seven assists.

Budenholzer said Antentokounmpo continues to dominate without forcing things, and that helps the team.

“If a team wants to throw extra bodies at him and turn him into a passer, he’s more than willing, more than capable,” Budenholzer said. “And guys are shooting it well.”

Khris Middleton had 25 points and nine assists, and Bobby Portis added 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks, who scored a season-high point total and shot 53 per cent from the field.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 33 points, a career-high 14 assists and eight rebounds for the Thunder. It was the sixth time in seven games since the All-Star break that Gilgeous-Alexander has scored at least 30 points.

“He’s just a great player,” Budenholzer said. “We were all talking about it back in the locker room after the game. He’s impressive. The ball’s in his hands a tonne, but he still makes the right plays.”

The Thunder have allowed at least 120 points five times in seven games since the All-Star break. Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said his team can do better.

“We’re capable, but it’s going to require sharper execution, better effort, more togetherness, more competitiveness in order for us to sustain that level,” he said.

Antetokounmpo drained a 30-footer at the first-half buzzer to give the Bucks a 76-65 lead at the break. Once known as simply a player that scored around the basket, he had the confidence to leave his wrist in the air well after he took the shot.

“I’ve shot a lot of deep ones in a game,” he said. “It’s one of those days that it went in. It felt good because I’ve been working on it for a while now.”

Antetokounmpo scored 18 points in the first half and helped the Bucks shoot 59.2 per cent from the field. Oklahoma City shot 58.5 per cent before the break.


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