NEW YORK (AP)Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double, though his brother had the highlight.
And while the NBA MVP wasn’t interested in talking about his stats, he certainly was impressed by Thanasis’ one basket, a follow slam with his left hand in the fourth quarter.
”That was amazing. That was a crazy dunk. He came out of nowhere,” Giannis said.
And the Greek Freak had a good seat on the bench to celebrate it after another easy win for the NBA’s top team.
Antetokounmpo had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in his third triple-double of the season, and the Milwaukee Bucks followed their big victory over the Lakers by routing the New York Knicks 123-102 on Saturday night.
Avoiding any letdown two nights after winning a showdown against Los Angeles for the NBA’s best record, the Bucks (26-4) made their first six 3-pointers to open a big early lead that grew to 29 points.
”Luckily we’ve got a group that is very professional, very motivated,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. ”I think they take their work seriously, they take their routine, the process seriously, and I think it reflected coming off a big win and coming out and playing the way we did in the first quarter.”
Antetokounmpo had secured his triple-double by midway through the third quarter after playing just 23 minutes. It appeared for a while that he was going to be finished for the night at that point, but he was eventually called on for some fourth-quarter minutes.
He took only 10 shots, making eight.
”I don’t look into stats,” Antetokounmpo said. ”All I care about is that we came in here, we got the job done. Got another one tomorrow.”
Khris Middleton scored 23 points and Kyle Korver had 17 for the Bucks, who are playing without starters Wesley Matthews and Eric Bledsoe because of right leg injuries. They didn’t miss them at all.
It wasn’t quite as easy as Milwaukee’s 132-88 home victory in one of David Fizdale’s final games as Knicks coach, but it was plenty good enough to increase the average victory margin for a team that came in leading the league at 12.8 points per game – a figure that would be the highest in NBA history if it stood until the end of the season.
Julius Randle had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Knicks, who lost for the second straight night. They were out it early after missing nine of their first 10 shots, though they did keep fighting hard enough to force the Bucks to bring Antetokounmpo and other starters back off the bench midway through the fourth after Milwaukee led by 25 through three quarters.
”They went 6 for 6 from the 3-point line to start the game, which was our game plan, to make their guys take shots,” Randle said. ”They did to start the game and then they cooled off. We didn’t make shots to start the game, which just hurt us.”
Milwaukee put seven players in double figures in its second straight win after Dallas snapped its 18-game winning streak earlier this week. The Bucks bounced back from that by beating the Lakers 111-104.
The Bucks led by 47 points in the first matchup against the Knicks and started this game poised to deliver another blowout. Donte DiVincenzo scored the first five points, consecutive 3-pointers by Brook Lopez made it 17-4, and Ersan Ilyasova’s second 3-pointer made it 23-6 and forced the Knicks to call their second timeout in less than 4 1/2 minutes.
Bucks: With Matthews sitting for the first time this season, the Bucks used their seventh different starting lineup. … Milwaukee beat New York for the fourth straight time.
Knicks: Elfrid Payton replaced Frank Ntilikina as the starting point guard and had six points, 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals. … Kevin Knox II had 19 points off the bench.
LIFE IS GOOD
Budenholzer was a candidate for the Knicks coaching job following his successful run in Atlanta. The Knicks hired Fizdale instead, and Budenholzer doesn’t wonder about what might have been.
”No, I don’t really think that way,” the 2018-19 Coach of the Year said.
”Life works out the way it’s supposed to and just beyond happy with being in Milwaukee. Ton of respect for the Knicks and their organization here, but at the end of the day just very, very happy with Milwaukee and the team, the organization, the city. Just, I’m in a great place and I feel very, very fortunate.”
Bucks: Host Indiana on Sunday.
Knicks: Host Washington on Monday.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports