Hobbled Giannis Antetokounmpo lifts Bucks past Cavs 127-105
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo showed few signs he was bothered by an ailing right ankle, getting 26 points and 10 rebounds to lift to Milwaukee Bucks over the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-105 on Sunday, March 24.
Antetokounmpo was listed as questionable after missing two of the three previous games with an ankle sprain. He made 11 of 16 shots and had seven assists in 32 minutes.
Khris Middleton and George Hill added 17 points apiece for the Bucks. Hill was acquired from the Cavaliers in a three-team trade in early December.
Kevin Love had 20 points, Jordan Clarkson 19 and Collin Sexton 18 for Cleveland.
Milwaukee improved to an NBA-best 55-19. The Raptors were 51-22 entering Sunday’s game at home against Charlotte.
The Bucks never trailed, jumping out to a 15-6 lead. Milwaukee led 68-55 at the half, but the Cavaliers pulled within 82-73 on David Nwaba’s one-hander from the lane.
Hill’s jumper from just inside the arc in the closing seconds put Milwaukee up 90-77 entering the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee lost at Cleveland on Wednesday, 107-102, without Antetokounmpo, when the Bucks used only eight players due to other injuries.
Cavaliers: Coach Larry Drew was head coach of the Bucks for one season, 2013-14, when Antetokounmpo was a 19-year-old rookie. Drew called Antetokounmpo one of the top five players in the game. “I always thought that he could get to that point, because you could see he was a hard worker and he really wanted it,” Drew said. “But him getting there as fast as he has, no I didn’t anticipate that.”
Bucks: Coach Mike Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo’s health was more important than playoff positioning. “We are dealing with his ankle, and as we have said, if we can have the first seed, that’d be great, but it’s not the priority.”
Cleveland hosts Boston on Tuesday.
The Bucks host Houston on Tuesday.