NBA: Bucks eclipse Suns, becomes first team to clinch playoff spot
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists as the visiting Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 116-104 on Tuesday to become the NBA’s first team to reach the 50-win mark.
Brook Lopez had 21 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee, which won for the 21st time in its last 23 games and clinched a playoff spot for the seventh consecutive season. Jrue Holiday scored 12 points, while Jae Crowder and Bobby Portis Jr. had 11 apiece.
Devin Booker scored 20 of his 30 points in the second half for Phoenix. Deandre Ayton added 16 points and eight rebounds, Cameron Payne scored 13, Jock Landale had 12, and Chris Paul had 11 points and eight assists.
The Suns have lost three straight following a four-game winning streak.
Giannis tonight 💪
Bucks get their 50th win and secure a spot in the #NBAPlayoffs. pic.twitter.com/npK3oKsxZi
— NBA (@NBA) March 15, 2023
After Phoenix tied the game at 97, Pat Connaughton and Joe Ingles each hit 3-pointers during an 11-2 run to help Milwaukee move ahead 108-99 with 4:45 remaining.
Paul scored on the next possession to cut the deficit to seven before Milwaukee scored eight straight points to secure its 12th win in its last 13th road games.
Ayton was limited to 25 minutes while battling foul trouble throughout the game. Ayton picked up two fouls in the first five minutes for Phoenix, which trailed 29-24 at the end of the first quarter.
Milwaukee stretched its lead to 51-35 with five minutes left in the half after Holiday’s jumper capped a 22-9 run. Phoenix battled back and cut the deficit to 57-48 at the break.
Antetokounmpo had 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the first half for Milwaukee, which completed a two-game season sweep of the Suns.
Phoenix outscored Milwaukee 36-28 in the third quarter behind Booker, who scored 17 points in the period. Phoenix ended the quarter down 85-84 after Booker hit a pull-up jumper at the buzzer.
The Suns took their first lead since late in the first quarter at 90-87 when Payne scored with 10:47 remaining in the contest.
Booker has scored at least 30 points in six of the last seven games for Phoenix, which shot 14 of 16 (87.5 percent) from the foul line, compared to 24 of 37 (64.9 percent) for Milwaukee.
NBA: Giannis Antetokounmpo leads Bucks’ comeback vs Kings
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