Another game, another impressive performance for Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Kia MVP candidate had 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and the Bucks beat the Hornets 131-114 for their NBA-best 50th victory.
Charlotte led by 14 in the second quarter before Antetokounmpo came alive. Then Brook Lopez took over in the third quarter, scoring 18 of his 25 points as the Bucks seized control of the game.
Lopez attacked smaller defenders at the rim every chance he got, getting in close for layups and dunks. He also went 10-of-10 from the stripe.
“He’s a very gifted, talented, unique player,” coach Mike Budenholzer said of Lopez, who has taken two-thirds of his shots this season from beyond the arc.
“Brook [Lopez] was phenomenal… He just did a little bit of everything.” pic.twitter.com/c3UN4Ejy6d
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) March 10, 2019
It’s just the second 50-win season in the past 30 years for Milwaukee (50-16), which went 52-30 during the 2000-01 season and reached the Eastern Conference finals.
The last time the Bucks were the first team to reach 50 wins (1973-74), they reached the NBA Finals.
Celtics subdue undermanned Lakers
With LeBron James on a minutes restriction and other starters unavailable due to injuries, the latest chapter of the NBA’s most storied rivalry was less than competitive.
At least the two biggest stars delivered strong performances: Kyrie Irving scored 30 points and LeBron James posted his 80th career triple-double in the Celtics’ 120-107 victory over the Lakers, who have now lost five straight games. Meanwhile, the Celtics are 3-0 on a four-game California trip that concludes Monday against the Clippers.
Irving and James exchanged hugs and a few words after the game, and Irving was later asked about James likley missing out on the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.
“I feel for him,” Irving said, citing the Lakers’ injuries around James. “LeBron has always been a championship contender. Not to qualify for the playoffs is hard. I can only imagine.”
“I feel for him. #LeBron is a championship contender. He’s such a great teammate, such a great player. I just feel for him.” – #Celtics Kyrie Irving on LeBron James missing the playoffs #Lakerspic.twitter.com/vt3pSErLsO
— Lauren A. Jones (@LoJoMedia) March 10, 2019
Towns scores 40, exits with injury
Karl-Anthony Towns had 40 points and 16 rebounds before leaving in the final seconds of regulation with a right knee injury, and the Wolves beat the Wizards 135-130 in overtime.
Towns spent the overtime period in the trainer’s room after coming up limping in the final seconds of regulation.
Interim coach Ryan Saunders said Towns would undergo further testing, and he hadn’t heard any concerns of a major injury.
“He’s just had initial evaluations, but he was walking around so there’s really no info at the moment,” Saunders said.
Towns’ poster dunk over Jeff Green deserves another look:
Nets continue playoff push
Led by 23 points from Spencer Dinwiddie, the Nets escaped from Atlanta with a 114-112 victory and moved into a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks went for the win on their last possession, but Vince Carter could not connect on a last-second 3-pointer.
Rookie Rodions Kurucs had 16 points, six rebounds and the play of the game …
.. but the Hawks produced two notable performances:
• Trae Young recorded his first career triple-double (23 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds). It was the first triple-double by a Hawks rookie since Hall of Famer Bob Pettit in 1954.
• John Collins finished with 33 points and a career-high 20 rebounds — the first 30-point, 20-rebound game by a Hawks player since Kevin Willis in 1993.
Beverley roasts George on Twitter
Paul George was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Saturday for criticizing officials after the Thunder’s 118-110 loss to Clippers on Friday night.
“We don’t get a fair whistle,” George told reporters after the game. “We’re getting scratched, clawed, held, shoved, and there’s nothing for it.”
Patrick Beverley, known for locking down some of the best offensive players in the NBA, had a different take on the game and took to Twitter to give his side of the story.
Men lie, numbers don’t. He tried to blame the refs. Naw bra bra!!! https://t.co/cmKzRIVAmC
— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) March 9, 2019
George went 3-of-10 shooting with seven points on 44 possessions. But the MVP candidate wasn’t going to give Beverley the last word.
Stop it pat lol LA has gave you a platform now but stop it bra bra!
— Paul George (@Yg_Trece) March 9, 2019
And, of course, Beverely gets the last word …
@Yg_Trece never knew u for the excuse type. Give credit if credit is due. I locked u up last night. I won the Battle last night. Plain and simple.
— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) March 9, 2019
The Thunder and Clippers do not meet again in the regular season. However, the Clippers are currently tied for sixth place in the Western Conference, while the Thunder are in fourth. It’s possible George and Beverley could meet in the first round of the playoffs.
Stat of the night
John Collins and Trea Young became the first teammates to record a triple-double and a 30-point, 20-rebound game since Shaquille O’Neal (31 points, 21 rebounds) and Scott Skiles (14 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists) for the Orlando Magic on Nov. 12, 1992.