Milwaukee wins without its star Antetokounmpo, Embiid impresses
The Bucks consolidate their first place in the Eastern Conference, Embiid great craftsman of the form of Philadelphia.
THE Milwaukee Bucks strengthened their first place in the NBA Eastern Conference on Tuesday with a big victory (134-123) in Orlando thanks to Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton and Jevon Carter who replaced Giannis Antetokounmpo, absent through injury. Lopez scored 26 points with 64.3% shooting success while Middleton and Carter finished with 24 points each to give the Bucks their ninth straight road win. Milwaukee, who remained on a loss against Philadelphia on Saturday ending a 16-game unbeaten run, now has 47 wins for 18 losses, ahead of the Boston Celtics (45-21).
The Bucks stayed in control throughout the game against the Magic, holding a cushion of at least ten points for most of the final quarter. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer praised Lopez’s performance after the game. “We tend to talk a lot about his defense but offensively he was very good“, he said.
In Minneapolis, Philadelphia recorded its third straight victory by beating the Timberwolves (117-94) and consolidated its third place in the Eastern Conference. Joel Embiid again delivered a strong performance with 39 points (including 4/4 on award-winning shots and 9/9 on free throws). The day before, the Cameroonian pivot had already scored 42 points against Indiana.
Without James Harden, left to rest, the 76ers rested offensively on Tyrese Maxey (27 pts), Tobias Harris (10) and De’Anthony Melton (11). Opposite, Minnesota could only count on Anthony Edwards (32 pts), the rest of the five majors finishing with less than seven points each. “Tonight, without James (Harden), I wanted to be as aggressive as possible to secure the win.“, explained Embiid after the meeting. “We had a very good defense and offensively, we circulated the ball well and made good shots“.
Knicks stung by Hornets
The surprise of the evening came from Madison Square Garden where the Charlotte Hornets, though penultimate in the East, won at the end of the match against the New York Knicks (112-105) who saw their series of nine consecutive victories. Charlotte was heading for its 47th loss with a 16-point deficit after returning from the locker room but woke up by scoring 37 points in the third quarter before inflicting a 25-16 on the Knicks in the fourth to give themselves a 21st victory.
The Hornets relied on Kelly Oubre Jr (27 pts), Terry Rozier (25) and Gordon Hayward (23) against the Knicks who looked tired after two away wins over Miami and Boston. In the West, Stephen Curry scored 40 points for Golden State for his second game since returning from injury, unable to prevent another defeat for the Warriors against Oklahoma City (137-128). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the Thunder’s leading scorer (33 pts).
In Los Angeles, Anthony Davis’ 30 points and 22 rebounds helped the Lakers beat the Memphis Grizzlies (112-103), who played without their star Ja Morant, suspended for the second game in a row after a live video was broadcast on Instagram, in which he brandished what looks like a pistol. The Lakers move up to ninth place in the Western Conference, the Warriors are fifth.