Middleton, Antetokounmpo lead Bucks past T-Wolves 140-128
MILWAUKEE — Khris Middleton scored 28 points, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks pulled away for a 140-128 victory over the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
The Bucks (45-14) have won 10 of 11 and 16 of 18 to move a season-high 31 games over .500. With their latest win, they surpassed last season’s victory total.
Derrick Rose had 23 points for the Timberwolves, who played without Karl-Anthony Towns for the second consecutive game.
After the score was tied at 113, the Bucks finally pulled away in the fourth quarter with a decisive 16-2 run capped by Nikola Mirotic’s driving layup and two free throws from Middleton that gave Milwaukee a 129-115 advantage with 4:58 to play. Minnesota never threatened after that as the Bucks dialed up their energy and improved to 25-5 at home.
Brook Lopez had 19 points for the Bucks and a technical foul for scowling at a prone Dario Saric after a dunk in the closing minutes.
Taj Gibson scored a season-high 20 points for Minnesota, one better than his previous best set in Friday’s night win over New York. Andrew Wiggins had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Anthony Tolliver finished with 17 points.
The Timberwolves overcame the first missed game of Towns’ career to beat the Knicks 115-104 on Friday, but not the second.
Towns’ streak of 303 consecutive starts ended when he was placed in concussion protocol after being involved in a car accident Thursday on the way to the airport. He was cleared to fly to New York, but ruled out after further medical examination Friday. He accompanied the team to Milwaukee, but was unable to play due to the league’s concussion program.
The 2015 No. 1 draft pick’s streak of starts was the longest to begin a career since 1970-71. He just played in his second All-Star Game last weekend and is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 23.1 points and 12 rebounds per game.
With Towns watching in street clothes, the Timberwolves’ bench came up big, outscoring the Bucks’ reserves 37-20 and hustling their way to a 70-69 Minnesota lead at halftime.
Tolliver, averaging 4.3 points, had 14 in the first half. Gibson and Wiggins each scored 12 and Rose had 10, including a floater in the lane that put Minnesota ahead at the break. Tolliver also stuffed Antetokounmpo’s driving dunk attempt with 11 minutes left in the second quarter.
Rose scored seven points in the third, including a three-point play at the end of the period that gave Minnesota a 109-107 lead. Middleton scored 13 straight points in the quarter to keep the Bucks close.
The Timberwolves slipped to 9-21 on the road.
Timberwolves: Before the game, Towns took some initial steps toward being cleared to return. . G Tyus Jones played in his third consecutive game after missing 13 with a sprained left ankle. … C Gorgui Dieng missed his second straight game for personal reasons.
Bucks: G George Hill exited with a left adductor strain in the first half and did not return. . The last time the teams met in October, the Bucks routed the Timberwolves 125-95 for Minnesota’s worst home loss since 2011.
Timberwolves: Host the Sacramento Kings on Monday night.
Bucks: At the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.