Antetokounmpo, Bucks hold off Clippers for 4th win in a row
LOS ANGELES — The numbers are adding up quickly for Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The reigning NBA MVP had 38 points and 16 rebounds to help the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Los Angeles Clippers 129-124 on Wednesday night for their fourth victory in a row.
It’s what he’s done to start the season that really stands out.
Antetokounmpo became the first player in league history with 200 points, 100 rebounds and 50 assists in the first eight games of a season.
“He played the whole fourth quarter and was fabulous,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Antetokounmpo had 13 points in 12 minutes during the fourth as Milwaukee repelled several threats by the Clippers, who kept getting within four only to come up short.
“Guys were physical with me but at the end of the day you’ve just got to keep doing what you’re doing,” Antetokounmpo said. “I was trying to make plays, try to stay aggressive. That’s what my teammates wanted me to do.”
Antetokounmpo just missed a triple-double with nine assists. He’s posted at least 10 rebounds and five assists in each of the first eight games this season, the first player to do that since at least 1972-73.
“He’s a beast,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
George Hill scored 24 points off the bench and hit six of the Bucks’ 18 3-pointers.
The Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard, who rested for the first half of a home back-to-back. He’ll play against Portland on Thursday night.
“When he sits out we’ve just got to step up,” said Lou Williams, who had 34 points and 11 assists.
Montrezl Harrell had a career-high 34 points and 13 rebounds in his first start of the season.
“It don’t mean nothing,” he said in a low voice. “We lost.”
Patrick Beverley added 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Clippers’ first home defeat.
Led by Hill and Kyle Korver with 14 points, the Bucks’ reserves outscored the Clippers’ bench 47-20, the first time that’s happened to Los Angeles this season. Harrell and Williams being in the starting lineup reduced much of the bench production.
Los Angeles starter Landry Shamet had just two points coming into the fourth, but made four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points. The last one put the Clippers within two with 23 seconds left.
“If we came up with one or two more stops, the game might have been different,” Harrell said.
The Bucks finished it off at the free throw line, and the Clippers couldn’t connect on multiple chances during their last possession.
“They had us on our heels the whole game,” Williams said. “We just weren’t as sharp as we’d like to be.”
The Clippers closed within four early in the fourth, but Antetokounmpo reeled off seven straight points to keep the Bucks ahead 115-103.
“I just know he’s always around the rim,” former Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe said of Antetokounmpo. “Even though it’s a bad play or whatnot, he’s going to be under the rim, so I just find a way to get it to him.”
Bledsoe added 20 points, and Brook Lopez had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Bucks.
The Clippers erased an 11-point deficit in the third. They forced three ties, but each time Antetokounmpo answered for the Bucks. He dunked, hit a 3-pointer and made two free throws.
Milwaukee outscored the Clippers 15-6 to take a 98-89 lead into the fourth.
The Bucks opened the second on a 30-11 run, hitting five 3-pointers, for their largest lead of 17 points. Hill scored 14 to help the Bucks lead 70-59 at halftime. They closed with three consecutive 3s, two by Hill and the last by Korver, who beat the buzzer.
Bucks: Antetokounmpo had two airballs: the first on a jumper to end the first quarter and the second on a free throw in the third. … For the first time in three games, the Bucks didn’t lead all the way — but they came close. The Clippers’ only lead was by three points.
Clippers: Starting F Patrick Patterson had just two points. … Rivers remained stuck on 899 career wins.
FROM LONG RANGE
The Bucks took 49 3-pointers. Antetokounmpo tied his career high with four, the same number Bledsoe and Korver made.
“It makes a big difference,” Budenholzer said. “We hopefully can open up the court and it gives different guys driving lanes. We want to keep shooting them.”
Budenholzer said Hill got popped in the eye but is expected to be fine.
Bucks: Visit the Utah Jazz on Friday, the third stop on their four-game trip.
Clippers: Host the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.
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