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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

No Giannis, no problem as Bucks remain unbeaten in NBA

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The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t miss a beat with two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined for the first time this season, pushing their record to 9-0 Saturday with a 108-94 victory over Oklahoma City.

Antetokounmpo was listed as out with left knee soreness a night after he posted his first triple-double of the season in a victory at Minnesota.

Brook Lopez helped fill the void with 25 points as the Bucks improved on their already best-ever start to the season.

Elsewhere, there were overtime wins for the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings, and the Boston Celtics set a franchise record with 27 three-pointers with a 133-118 victory over the New York Knicks.

In Milwaukee, Lopez connected on 10 of 16 shots from the floor to pace the Bucks, who had 17 three-pointers.

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Bobby Portis and Jrue Holiday both posted double-doubles and the Bucks led by as many as 24.

De’Aaron Fox was the hero in Orlando, draining a three-pointer from near half-court as time expired to lift the Kings to a 126-123 overtime victory over the Magic in Orlando.

Fox scored a game-high 37 points. That included the first six in overtime, but they were tied 123-123 with 2.5 seconds left in the extra session after Orlando’s Chume Okeke seized upon a Kings turnover and drove for a dunk.

“I just tried to get as in front of the basket as I possibly could, and just tried to get it up,” Fox said. “It felt good, and it went in.”

The Kings had out-scored the Magic 36-12 to erase a 20-point third-quarter deficit. They traded the lead five times in the fourth, with Fox’s bank shot tying it up in the final second.

Sensational rookie Paolo Banchero led the Magic with 33 points and 15 rebounds.

The 19-year-old joined LeBron James as the only teenagers to record at least 30 points and 15 rebounds in an NBA game.

In Atlanta, Trae Young scored 34 points to lead five Hawks players in double figures in a 124-121 overtime victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum scored 29 points apiece for the Pelicans, who have dropped three overtime decisions in the first three weeks of the season.

Long-range barrage

In New York, Jaylen Brown scored 30 points and Jayson Tatum added 26 for the Celtics, who buried the Knicks with a long-range barrage.

Brown and Tatum had half a dozen three-pointers each and reserve guard Sam Hauser had five as all nine Celtics who played connected from beyond the arc.

Elsewhere, the New Jersey Nets notched a second straight win since star Kyrie Irving was suspended, rallying from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Hornets 98-94 in Charlotte.

Kevin Durant scored 27 points, Cam Thomas added 21 and Nic Claxton chipped in 11 as the Nets overcame early offensive struggles with a late surge.

Durant keyed a 12-0 Nets run in the fourth and Brooklyn put together two straight wins for the first time this season despite a tumultuous week that saw them part ways with head coach Steve Nash and suspend Irving for at least five games after he posted a social media link to a film widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

“This is probably going to be the toughest thing we deal with as a group,” Durant said. “To know that we can get through this and continue to stick together, I think that’s important.”

The Phoenix Suns routed the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers 102-82 in a duel of top Western Conference teams.

Devin Booker scored 24 points and Chris Paul added 15 for the Suns, who avenged a 108-106 loss to the Blazers just a day before.

There was little drama in the return engagement with the Blazers still without their star duo of Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons because of injuries.

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