Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 42 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to power the Milwaukee Bucks to a 128-119 NBA victory Monday over Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans.
Two-time Most Valuable Player Antetokounmpo dominated in the paint, making 12 of his 17 shots from the floor and 17 of his 22 free throws.
Meanwhile the Bucks effectively limited Williamson, the New Orleans star forward who finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Milwaukee’s attention to Williamson opened the door for the Pelicans outside. Center Jonas Valanciunas drained seven three-pointers on the way to 37 points and CJ McCollum had six three-pointers and 31 points.
They helped New Orleans keep it close, but it wasn’t enough against a Bucks team that also had 30 points from Brook Lopez and 18 from Jrue Holiday.
Milwaukee led by as many as 18 in the fourth quarter. New Orleans cut the deficit to three on McCollum’s basket with 1:32 remaining, but former Pelican Holiday answered with a three-pointer and Lopez drove for a layup as Milwaukee pulled away again.
The East-leading Bucks improved to 22-8. The Pelicans, who were briefly atop the West earlier this month after a seven-game winning streak, suffered a fourth straight defeat.
“Overall there was a lot of really good defensive effort,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said, noting that the plan was to disrupt the “very unique and special” Williamson and “hopefully just change the dynamics of their team a little bit.”
Elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers squandered a 14-point lead early in the third quarter but held on to eke out a 104-101 overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Joel Embiid scored 28 points and pulled down 11 rebounds and Tobias Harris added 21 points as the Sixers weathered the Raptors’ late surge.
Pascal Siakam scored 23 of his 38 points in the second half as Toronto battled back. They twice led by seven in the fourth quarter, and Siakam’s finger-roll layup with 5.1 seconds left in the fourth knotted the score at 99-99.
Embiid couldn’t convert a game-winner as time expired in the fourth, but Harris drilled a three-pointer in overtime that put the Sixers up for good on their way to a fifth straight win.
In Atlanta, the Hawks survived a late push from the Orlando Magic with Dejounte Murray delivering the game-winning free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining in a 126-125 victory.
Trae Young scored 37 points and handed out 13 assists, AJ Griffin added 19 points off the bench and Murray scored 17 as the Hawks ended the Magic’s six-game winning streak.
Atlanta outscored Orlando 62-48 in the paint and led 124-112 with 3:05 to play.
Orlando put together an 11-0 scoring run and took a one-point lead with 3.8 seconds remaining, but Murray came through at the foul line.
Mitchell’s Cavs silence Jazz
In Cleveland, Donovan Mitchell scored 23 points to lead the Cavaliers to a 122-99 victory over Utah in his first game against his former team since the Jazz traded him in the off-season.
Cedi Osman scored 22 points off the bench and Jarrett Allen added 20 as seven Cleveland players scored in double figures on the way to their fourth straight win.
The Cavs, who improved to 15-2 at home and 21-11 overall, also impressed on defense, holding the Jazz to a season-low 39.1 percent shooting.
Lauri Markkanen, who arrived in Utah in the Cavs’ blockbuster trade for Mitchell, scored 24 points, 22 of them coming in the first half as both teams rested most of their starters in the fourth quarter after the Cavs put the game out of reach.
In Minneapolis, the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the disjointed Dallas Mavericks 116-106, with frustrated Mavs star Luka Doncic and coach Jason Kidd both ejected in the third quarter after arguing over calls.