AFP/ Los Angeles
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 29 points as the Milwaukee Bucks stretched their winning streak to 12 games on Monday with a 132-88 demolition of the hapless New York Knicks.
The Eastern Conference leaders showed no mercy to the worst side in the division, outscoring the Knicks by 33-15 in the first quarter and showing no let-up through a one-sided encounter.
Antetokounmpo was on court for just 21 minutes, adding 15 rebounds and shooting 10-of-14 while leading the scoring.
The Greek star was backed by Khris Middleton with 16 points and DJ Wilson, who added 19 off the bench.
No fewer than six Milwaukee players finished in double digits, including Antetokounmpo’s elder brother Thanasis who chipped in with 10 points from his 12 minutes on the court.
The win saw the Bucks improve to 18-3 at the top of the Eastern Conference, while the Knicks remained rooted to the bottom of the standings with just four wins against 17 defeats.
Antetokounmpo meanwhile said Milwaukee were not thinking about their winning streak but rather looking ahead to their next game.
“I know we’re playing great basketball, everybody’s having fun but that’s in the past,” Antetokounmpo said.
“We’ve got to keep getting better, keep improving our game, keep improving as a team, because at the end of the day we try to translate everything we do right now at the end of the year. We’ve got to keep taking steps forward.”
Knicks coach David Fizdale admitted his team had been bracing for an onslaught from the tip-off.
“I don’t think we came into this game believing we can win this game,” Fizdale remarked. “That was the most disappointing. I feel like every other game we felt like we could compete tonight we didn’t come out with the idea we can beat this team.”
The Bucks are two games clear of second-placed Toronto, who stand at 15-4, just ahead of the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics (14-5). The Philadelphia 76ers meanwhile remained in the hunt on Monday, claiming a 103-94 win over the Utah Jazz.
Tobias Harris led the scoring for the Sixers with 26 points, while Joel Embiid added 16 points and 11 rebounds in what had threatened to become a rout at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers had surged into a 60-42 lead at half-time and looked to be in control until a sustained Utah fightback.
The Jazz had trailed by 19 points after three quarters and managed to claw back the deficit to seven points with one minute remaining before the Sixers steadied the ship for the win.
The victory means Philadelphia preserve their unbeaten home record with 10 wins and no defeats. The Sixers are fifth in the Eastern Conference, with 15 wins and six defeats.
In Atlanta, meanwhile, Golden State’s miserable start to the season continued with a 104-79 thumping by the Hawks.
Trae Young led the Atlanta rout with 24 points, while De’Andre Hunter had 18 and Damian Jones 16.
The Warriors, who have been ravaged by injuries and departures from their previously dominant roster that had reached the last five NBA finals, remain bottom of the Western Conference with just four wins against 18 defeats.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted maintaining the morale of his inexperienced squad was a challenge.
“It’s not easy for everybody to lose,” Kerr said after the defeat.
“Especially given that our team has fought really hard throughout the first quarter of the season and had some really difficult losses. It wears on you.
“Because you want those efforts to be rewarded. But you have to keep the faith and keep fighting, and it’s my job to keep their spirits up and try and turn it around.”
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