Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler and James Harden stood out Wednesday night in the NBA with performances by grandmasters to guide their respective clubs down the path of victory.
Antetokounmpo overflowed with 47 points and teammate Khris Middleton tied Milwaukee’s franchise record for 3s for the champion Bucks to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 109-102.
After missing eight games due to COVID-19, Middleton came back and made consecutive triples in the fourth quarter and his Bucks took the lead, with a lead they held until the end.
The second of his 3s was his 1,051 with the Bucks to match retired Ray Allen for first place on the team’s all-time list.
Allen holds the NBA overall record with 2,973 3s in a career that also included stints with the then Seattle SuperSonics, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
Star LeBron James missed an eighth straight game for the Lakers due to an abdominal strain.
Talen Horton-Tucker scored 25 points for the Lakers and Russell Westbrook had 19 points, followed by Anthony Davis with 18, Malik Monk 11 and Carmelo Anthony 10.
Antetokounmpo posted his highest points total since scoring 50 in Game 6 of last season’s finals over the Phoenix Suns that took Milwaukee’s first title since 1971.
– Butler, also on –
In Miami, fellow star Jimmy Butler finished with a ‘triple-double’ on his return from a sprained right ankle with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the local Heat’s 113-98 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. .
With Miami without starters Bam Adebayo (left knee injury) and point guard Kyle Lowry (rest), Butler made 10 of 12 shots from the field and 10 of 12 free throws after missing the previous three games.
Tyler Herro scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, and Max Strus added 15 points for the Heat. Herro also hit three triples.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 24 points and Brandon Ingram added 19 points for the Pelicans.
Miami rallied in the first half and finally took the lead on a 16-5 run that ended the third period.
– Harden, huge –
In New York, James Harden scored 27 points, LaMarcus Aldridge 24 and Kevin Durant 23 for the Brooklyn Nets to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers with a score of 109-99.
With 21 points from Patty Mills the Nets had four players with 20 or more points for the first time this season.
Brooklyn improved to 11-5 with its eighth win in the last 10 games.
For the Cavaliers, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio led the offense with 25 points, followed by Darius Garland with 24 and Kevin Love, Cedi Osman and Dean Wade with 11 each.
Brooklyn led 62-41 at the half, with 19 points from Durant and 16 from Harden. (AFP)
– Wednesday’s NBA results:
Detroit to Indiana 97-89
Atlanta to Boston 110-99
Milwaukee to LA Lakers 109-102
Orlando to NY Knicks 104-98
Oklahoma City to Houston 101-89
Charlotte to Washington 97-87
Miami to New Orleans 113-98
Brooklyn to Cleveland 109-99
Minnesota to Sacramento 107-97