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Suns too bright for Celtics, Giannis Antetokounmpo dominates as Bucks stop Rockets

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo drives to the basket against the Houston Rockets. Picture: Thomas Shea/USA TODAY Sports v ia Reuters

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo drives to the basket against the Houston Rockets. Picture: Thomas Shea/USA TODAY Sports v ia Reuters

Published Dec 11, 2021

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Los Angeles - JaVale McGee scored a season-high 21 points as the short-handed Phoenix Suns earned their 20th win in the past 21 games by cruising to a 111-90 victory over the Boston Celtics on Friday.

McGee also had 15 rebounds while Cameron Payne came off the bench to score 17 points in front of a crowd of 17,000 at Footprint Center in Arizona.

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Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson added 16 points apiece for the Suns, who played without star guard Devin Booker and centre Deandre Ayton.

Booker missed his fourth straight game with a hamstring injury while Ayton was sidelined with an undisclosed illness that the team said was not Covid-19.

Mikal Bridges added 14 points while Chris Paul and Landry Shamet scored 10 each. Paul also handed out a game-high 12 assists for the Suns, who made all 11 of their free throws.

"It was next man up," said Paul. "We got a lot of guys on our team who understand their jobs. Whatever it takes to win I got to do it."

Jayson Tatum had a game-high 24 points and seven rebounds for Boston, who dropped their third straight and ended a five-game road trip with just one win.

Dennis Schroder added 15 points, Robert Williams scored 10 and Al Horford had nine in the loss. Boston's Marcus Smart missed his first 11 shots and finished with a dismal four points -- shooting just one of 13. Overall the Celtics sank just four of 26 from beyond the arc.

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In Houston, Giannis Antetokounmpo's full arsenal was on display as he scored 41 points and grabbed 17 rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks cooled off the red-hot Houston Rockets 123-114.

Antetokounmpo also had five assists, three steals and two blocked shots as the Bucks snapped the Rockets' winning streak at seven games.

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"I was just looking to be aggressive," Antetokounmpo said. "Last game I wasn't as aggressive as I wanted."

He got plenty of support from his teammates, especially Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis, who each scored 21 points and added eight rebounds.

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The Bucks extended their lead to seven points, 119-112, with 47 seconds left in the fourth when Antetokounmpo slammed a dunk home.

Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said they know they can count on Antetokounmpo and Middleton down the stretch.

"When you have a good team and have players like that, you're fortunate to put the ball in their hands and let them make plays," he said.

Houston hadn't lost since ending a 15-game losing streak by beating the Chicago Bulls on November 24. The Rockets led by 10 at one stage Friday and hung around until the Bucks were able to pull away in the fourth.

Garrison Mathews finished with a team-high 23 points, including a half dozen threes, as the Rockets made Milwaukee work for the victory.

Christian Wood and Armoni Brooks chipped in with 21 points apiece, and Wood also grabbed 13 rebounds. Rookie Alperen Sengun scored a career-high 15 points.

In Oklahoma City, LeBron James scored 33 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 116-95 win over the mistake-prone Oklahoma City Thunder.

James had an immediate impact on the game, scoring Los Angeles' first six points. He shot 13 of 20 from the field, including making nine of 10 shots in the opening half.

Avery Bradley scored 11 of his season-high 22 points in the third quarter for the Lakers.

Oklahoma City was their own worst enemy on Friday, missing their first 12 three-point attempts. Rookie Tre Mann scored a team-high 19 points.

In Atlanta, Kevin Durant delivered a dominating performance, scoring 31 points as the Brooklyn Nets held on to beat the Atlanta Hawks 113-105.

AFP

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