Defending champion Bucks rout Nets in wire-to-wire victory

Los Angeles (AFP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 31 points as the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks dominated the Brooklyn Nets in a 121-109 wire-to-wire victory on Friday night.


Milwaukee spread the scoring around as a half dozen players finished in double figures, including all five starters in front of a crowd of 17,700 at the Barclays Center.

The Bucks welcomed the return of Antetokounmpo, who was a late scratch from their last game on Wednesday with a non-Covid-19 illness.

Antetokounmpo recently missed five games due to the NBA's Covid-19 measures and is averaging 32 points and more than 10 rebounds per game in six contests since returning.

This was Antetokounmpo's seventh straight 30-point game against the Nets.

"There is a lot of excitement in the air when you play Brooklyn," said Antetokounmpo. "We got wide open shots. We defended and we helped one another. We played well."

The Bucks beat the Nets in seven games in the Eastern Conference semi-finals last season before going on to win the NBA championship.

Khris Middleton scored 15 of his 20 points in the third quarter for Milwaukee, who ended a two-game losing skid.

Kevin Durant had 29 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the loss. James Harden finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

The Nets lost their fourth game in the past five and have dropped five straight at home.

They were without Kyrie Irving who is only allowed to play in road games after refusing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Irving is not permitted to play at home because of New York City's vaccine mandates.

In Toronto, Fred VanVleet finished with a triple-double of 37 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the Toronto Raptors clobbered the short-handed Utah Jazz 122-108.

VanVleet scored 24 points in the third quarter alone as he recorded his first career triple double.

OG Anunoby added 22 points for the Raptors, who have won five straight.

Pascal Siakam added 17 points, Chris Boucher had 13 points and Scottie Barnes had 11 points and nine rebounds in the win.

Utah was missing eight players, including All-Stars Donovan Mitchell (back strain) and Rudy Gobert (health and safety protocols).

Also sitting out for the Jazz were Joe Ingles (Covid-19 protocol), Mike Conley (knee), Bojan Bogdanovic (finger), Royce O'Neale (knee), Rudy Gay (heel) and Jordan Clarkson (back).