Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo on Monday shook off foul trouble to score 13 of his 22 points in the second half as his team pulled away for a 121-99 NBA victory over the Orlando Magic.
Antetokounmpo, the two-time defending NBA Most Valuable Player, showed no sign of the back spasms that forced him out of the Bucks’ win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, adding six rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
Khris Middleton scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Bobby Portis chipped in 20 points off the bench as the Bucks notched their fifth win in six games.
Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic led all scorers with 28 points and 13 rebounds, but it was not enough in the first meeting between the teams since Milwaukee ousted Orlando in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs in August.
Orlando forward Aaron Gordon threw down a dunk over Antetokounmpo early in the fourth to pull the Magic within 88-86.
Antetokounmpo responded with a three-pointer and assisted on Portis’ shot from beyond the arc as the Bucks rebuilt their lead.
After Gordon’s dunk, the Bucks scored 22 of the next 24 points as they put the game out of reach.
“He’s growing in all ways and it was just two huge plays, because the momentum could’ve swung on the dunk,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said of Antetokounmpo’s late-game effort.
It was a tight finish in Portland, where C.J. McCollum scored 30 points, including the game-winning pull-up jumper with 9.9 seconds remaining to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 112-111 victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Toronto’s Pascal Siakam missed a floater in the closing seconds and the Blazers escaped with a victory after trailing by as many as 17 points.
The Blazers posted their third straight win, despite losing center Jusuf Nurkic to a left quadriceps contusion in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, Gordon Hayward scored 28 of his game-high 34 points in the first quarter to fuel the Charlotte Hornets’ 109-88 victory over the New York Knicks.
The Washington Wizards notched their first home win of the season, downing the Phoenix Suns 128-107.
The COVID-19 pandemic is having an effect on the young season, with Monday’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans postponed, along with a clash between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls yesterday.
The Philadelphia 76ers, among the teams feeling the pinch with five players sidelined by COVID-19 protocols, endured a third straight defeat, 112-94 to the Atlanta Hawks.
Hawks point guard Trae Young led all scorers with 26 points, and Atlanta took a 32-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers was still irked that his team had to take the court on Saturday with just seven fit players between COVID-19 protocols and late injuries.
“We had enough guys tonight, but the other night, we were not happy with the way that went down,” Rivers said, although he acknowledged that “no one is going to feel sorry for us.”
“We’ve been in a tough spot with COVID. I have a sneaking feeling a lot of teams are going to have this problem,” he added.
SWEEP THE LEG: Poirier, determined to best McGregor, after losing to him in 2014, used low calf kicks to throw ‘Notorious’ off his stand-up game, before dropping him American underdog Dustin Poirier yesterday shook up the world of mixed martial arts, beating up the legs of Irish superstar Conor McGregor before knocking him out at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. “I’m happy, but I’m not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier said, after the referee stepped in after 2 minutes, 32 seconds of the second round to save McGregor from further damage, after he was dropped by a fierce combination of punches. The 32-year-old Poirier was ranked second in the flyweight division going into the fight, but still rated a heavy underdog by bookmakers to beat his fourth-ranked opponent,
Badminton’s world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying yesterday was handed a tough draw at Thailand’s World Tour Finals, as she was bracketed with home favorite Ratchanok Intanon and Indian star P.V. Sindhu. Tai, former world champion Ratchanok and Olympic silver-medalist Sindhu were grouped with Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong in Group B for the round-robin stage of the biosecure tournament in Bangkok. Tai faces Sindhu today. The delayed season finale from last year is the third behind-closed-doors event in three weeks in the Thai capital as badminton resumes after months of near-inactivity amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Spanish top seed Carolina Marin, seeking a hat-trick of wins in Bangkok,
HOLDING STEADY: Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying pushed past Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung to advance to a quarter-finals match against world No. 10 Michelle Li Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen and Wang Tzu-wei yesterday defeated their respective opponents in the second round of the Toyota Thailand Open, setting them up to face each other today in the quarter-finals. In an early match, world No. 12 Wang took 45 minutes to defeat Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka-long 21-13, 21-11. Last week, the world No. 8 ousted Wang from the Yonex tournament before defeating Chou in the semi-finals. Chou, world No. 2, defeated France’s Brice Leverdez in 48 minutes 21-19, 21-16. In other men’s singles matches, Indonesia’s fifth seed Anthony Ginting suffered an unexpected defeat to Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk-yiu, who moved into
MARIN REMATCH: Tai Tzu-ying saved six game points in her semi-final against Ratchanok Intanon, who went into the match with a superior head-to-head record Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying reached the final of badminton’s Thailand Open yesterday with a three-set win over Ratchanok Intanon, setting up a rematch against Carolina Marin. Tai won 12-21, 21-12, 23-21 in 59 minutes to set up her second final against Marin in two weeks, while Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin advanced to the final in the men’s doubles. However, Chou Tien-chen was eliminated in the semi-finals of the men’s singles. Tai saved six game points in the win against her Thai opponent Intanon, who went into the match with a superior head-to-head record against the Taiwanese world No. 1. Tai’s best streak was a