NBA: Bucks hold off 76ers to open campaign with a win
LOS ANGELES – Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks withstood a fourth-quarter surge from the 76ers to launch their NBA season with a 90-88 victory in Philadelphia on Thursday.
Two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo, who led the Bucks to the 2021 title, flirted with a triple-double with 21 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists as the Bucks handed the Sixers their second defeat of the fledgling season.
James Harden scored 16 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to lead a Philadelphia comeback bid that featured a 13-0 scoring run and saw the 76ers take the lead at 86-84 with less than two minutes to play.
It was their first lead since the opening basket of the contest, but they couldn’t build on it.
Wesley Matthews’s three-pointer with 23.8 seconds remaining gave Milwaukee an 89-88 lead with 25.7 seconds remaining.
With four seconds to play Harden drove from the left and spun to the rim but couldn’t convert and Brook Lopez finally sealed it for the Bucks with a free throw and an intentional miss that bounced off the rim and back into his hands in the waning moments.
“I think we did a great job just keeping our composure,” Antetokounmpo said in an on-court interview. “We had the lead. We lost the lead. They were playing good, they were moving the ball.
“Harden got hot, was making shots, was getting his teammates involved. We kept our composure. We kept trusting one another.”
“They scored 88 points, so our defense tonight was great.”
Lopez scored 17 points and forward Grayson Allen added 12 for Milwaukee, who were without Khris Middleton as he continues to recover from surgery in July on his left wrist.
Philadelphia’s star center Joel Embiid had 15 points and 12 rebounds but also had four turnovers. Tyrese Maxey chipped in 15 points for the Sixers, who dropped their season opener to the Celtics on Tuesday.