Giannis Antetokounmpo scores 36 points, Bucks hold off Bulls 116-113
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, and Khris Middleton made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left to lift the Milwaukee Bucks over the Chicago Bulls 116-113 on Wednesday night.
Antetokounmpo and the Bucks (15-6) won an entertaining duel with former teammate Jabari Parker, who put up 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists in his latest return to Milwaukee. Parker signed with the Bulls last offseason after spending his first four NBA seasons with the Bucks.
Malcolm Brogdon smartly passed the ball back to a wide-open Middleton at the top of the 3-point arc to set up the winning shot. Justin Holiday missed a 3 for Chicago that would have tied it in the final seconds.
Antetokounmpo also had a crucial block of Parker’s shot with the score tied at 111 in the last minute, and the star forward then sank two free throws with 36 seconds left before the Bulls’ Zach LaVine tied the score with a reverse layup.
Brogdon had 24 points, five rebounds and six assists, and Middleton added 17 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Rookie guard Ryan Arcidiacano continued his stellar play in the last week with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists, but the Bulls (5-17) dropped their fourth straight game and eighth in the past nine.
Antetokounmpo posted his fourth 30-point game in the last five, after scoring just 20 points in the Bucks’ loss at Charlotte on Monday.
The Bulls again scored 40 points in the first quarter, equaling their total in the opening quarter on Nov. 16 in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Parker had 10 points in the quarter and the Bulls shot 66.7 percent from the floor (12 of 18) to take a 40-30 lead.
Antetokounmpo sparked a Bucks rally in the second and finished the half with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. Milwaukee took its first lead at 50-48 on a layup by Ersan Ilyasova, and the teams traded the lead several times before Antetokounmpo’s drive gave the Bucks a 63-62 edge at halftime.
Milwaukee outscored Chicago 33-22 in the second period.
A 3-pointer by Brook Lopez gave the Bucks a 77-72 lead with 7:40 left in the third quarter and prompted a Bulls timeout.
Arcidiacono sank a pair of 3s as the Bulls regained the lead at 82-80 before the Bucks responded with dunks by Antetokounmpo and Pat Connaughton sandwiched around a free throw by Middleton.
The Bucks led 92-89 entering the final quarter.
Bulls: Second-year forward Lauri Markkanen is making progress in his recovery from a right elbow sprain sustained in training camp. He practiced Tuesday for the first time since being injured and worked out before Wednesday’s game. “The plan is to have him for a full-contact practice again (Thursday in Detroit),” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He will gradually get his rhythm and his timing and his conditioning back. It’s exciting.” Markkanen, an all-NBA rookie first-team selection last season, has missed the first 22 games. … G Denzel Valentine had left ankle surgery in Green Bay on Tuesday and will be out for the rest of the season, the Bulls announced. He is expected to return to full basketball activities in six months. … Parker is getting more comfortable with his new team and entered averaging 16.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. “He’s had a great couple weeks for us,” Hoiberg said. “We’re very tough to guard when he rebounds the ball and pushes it with pace. We’re using him all over, as the trail-spot attack guy and using him on the block, and he’s been a really good facilitator in those spots.”
Bucks: Veteran forward Ersan Ilyasova returned after missing two games with right knee soreness. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Ilyasova and third-year forward Thon Maker will be counted on to help make up for the loss of center John Henson, who had surgery on his left wrist Tuesday. Henson is expected to be out at least 12 weeks but could return this season. “We’ve played some really big lineups earlier in the season,” Budenholzer said. “Without John, we may play some smaller lineups and look at different combinations of guys. I think (Maker) knows what he needs to do.”
Bulls: Play at Detroit on Friday.
Bucks: Play at New York on Saturday.