NBA: Record-setting Giannis lifts Bucks over Nets
LOS ANGELES – Giannis Antetokounmpo forced overtime with a milestone three-pointer and drained two free throws to seal a 120-119 Milwaukee victory over Brooklyn Thursday that clinched the NBA champion Bucks’ playoff berth.
Milwaukee superstar Antetokounmpo finished with 44 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in the victory — which could well be a preview of a first-round playoff series.
Kevin Durant had 26 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds for Brooklyn, but his potential game-winning three-pointer as time expired bounced off the rim.
Antetokounmpo broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Bucks’ franchise scoring record — moving into first on the club’s all-time list with a step-back three-pointer over Nets center Andre Drummond with 18.7 seconds left in regulation.
That knotted the score at 110-110 and Durant then couldn’t get a jump shot to fall.
Three free throws from Durant put the Nets up 119-118 with 8.7 seconds left in overtime.
But Antetokounmpo took an inbounds pass and drove to the rim, drawing a foul and calmly making the winning free throws.
Jrue Holiday added 19 points for Milwaukee and Khris Middleton had 16 before he was ejected for a flagrant foul midway through the third quarter, when he brought down Bruce Brown as the Nets player rose for a dunk.
Although the Bucks led 96-92 with 8:12 remaining in regulation, they suddenly went cold and the Nets powered ahead with an 11-0 scoring run before Milwaukee steadied themselves and forced overtime.
Antetokounmpo came into the contest game 39 points behind Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s career-scoring leader who started his career with the Bucks and scored 14,211 points for them from 1969-75.
But the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, who is staking his claim to another MVP award, wasn’t interested in talking about the franchise record, focusing instead on the Bucks’ home game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday and the quest to dislodge the Miami Heat from the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
“There’s things that have to be done,” Antetokounmpo said.
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