Bucks beat Cavaliers without injured Antetokounmpo
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Khris Middleton scored 27 points and the Milwaukee Bucks withstood the absence of two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-90 on Saturday night.
Antetokounmpo sat out with back spasms after taking a hard fall one night earlier in a loss to the Utah Jazz.
“He’s very sore, very stiff,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. “There’s not much of a discussion or anything today. We are hopeful that it’s a short-term thing.”
Bobby Portis replaced Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee’s starting lineup and scored 17 points as the Bucks (6-4) closed a five-game home stretch in which they went 4-1. After Jrue Holiday made the game’s first basket, Portis scored the Bucks’ next 10 points.
The Bucks overcame a huge performance from Cleveland’s Andre Drummond, who had 26 points and 24 rebounds. Drummond was the first Cavalier to have at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game since Anderson Varejao did it against Boston on Jan. 31, 2012.
Cleveland (5-5) needed a big night from Drummond because it was missing so many weapons as it completed a six-game road swing.
Collin Sexton, who averages a team-high 25.1 points, missed a second straight game with a sprained left ankle. Other sidelined Cavaliers included Kevin Love (strained right calf), Matthew Dellavedova (concussion), Dante Exum (strained right calf), Darius Garland (sprained right shoulder), Kevin Porter Jr. (personal reasons) and Dylan Windler (fractured left hand).
Damyean Dotson scored 21 and Larry Nance Jr. added 17 for Cleveland. Holiday had 15, D.J. Wilson scored 12 and Donte DiVincenzo added 11 for Milwaukee.
The Bucks led by 19 early in the second quarter before the Cavaliers got back into the game with a 16-0 spurt that included nine points from Drummond.
Cleveland tied the game at 37-all on Drummond's basket with 3:12 left in the second quarter, but Middleton responded with eight straight points as the Bucks closed the first half with a 10-0 run.
The Bucks stayed in front the rest of the way.
Cavaliers: Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said before the game that Cleveland’s short-handed roster means the Cavs must “make the game as ugly as we possibly can” by winning with defense. The Cavs did their part on that end of the floor and became the first team to hold Milwaukee below 108 points this season. But they didn't have nearly enough offense to win the game.
Bucks: Wilson had fallen out of the Bucks’ rotation and hadn’t played in their last three games, but he got an opportunity Saturday and capitalized. He shot 5 of 9 from the floor in his 16-minute stint. ... Pat Connaughton returned to action after missing three games with a groin injury. He scored six points in 11 minutes.
Cavaliers: Host the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday in their first home game since Dec. 29. The Cavs won 94-90 at Memphis on Thursday.
Bucks: Visit the Orlando Magic on Monday in a rematch of a first-round playoff series Milwaukee won in five games last season.
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