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Antetokounmpo scores career-high 55 to ignite Bucks over Wizards

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 55 points to spark the Milwaukee Bucks in a revenge victory over Washington 123-113 on Tuesday, 3 January while NBA-best Boston was upset at Oklahoma City.

Greek star forward Antetokounmpo, who missed a 118-95 loss Sunday to Washington with knee soreness, added 10 rebounds and seven assists in the triumph, scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter to stomp the Wizards.

Antetokounmpo, who made 20-of-33 from the floor and 15 of 16 free throws, scored 12 straight Bucks points late to snuff a Washington rally attempt.

“I’m just trying to make good decisions, try to be aggressive throughout the whole game and at the end of the day, we try to win games,” Antetokounmpo said.

“We’re playing good basketball. We defended really well. And I’m just trying to do whatever I can for the team to get a W.”

Antetokounmpo became only the fourth player in NBA history with three consecutive games of at least 40 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, joining Russell Westbrook, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain.

Antetokounmpo credited extra work on his free throw accuracy with a boost in his recent scoring.

“That’s what I do, I work,” said Antetokounmpo. “A lot of people think my game is boring but I’m just trying to do better, trying to do whatever it takes to help my team win.

“At the end of the day I’ve got to get better at the free throw line and I’m just trying to put some extra work there, find my teammates, create some open threes and try to attack in the paint as much as I can.”

Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez added 21 points and 12 rebounds while reserve Bobby Portis had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Bucks, several of whom poured water on Antetokounmpo after the game in celebration.

“This is what basketball is about,” Antetokounmpo said. “This is what winning is about. We have a great team. We play together. We do it on the floor together. That’s what Milwaukee is about and I’m glad to be on a team like that.”

Latvian Kristaps Porzingis scored 22 points to lead the visiting Wizards, who had a five-game win streak snapped.

At Oklahoma City, Josh Giddey scored 25 points and Canadian backcourt partner Luguentz Dort added 23 to lead the host Thunder over Boston 150-117.

Jalen Williams and reserves Tre Mann and Isaiah Joe each added 21 points for the Thunder (16-21), who outscored Boston in every quarter.

The Celtics saw the NBA’s best record drop to 26-12, trimming their lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over Brooklyn (25-12) and 1.5 games over Milwaukee (24-13).

Jaylen Brown led Boston with 29 points and Jayson Tatum had 27 for the Celtics.

The night’s thriller came in Salt Lake City, where Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox made a driving layup with less than a second remaining to give the Sacramento Kings a 117-115 triumph at Utah.

Fox finished with a game-high 37 points, including his career-best fourth quarter with 20 points, and Domantas Sabonis added 21 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists for the Kings.

Finnish forward Lauri Markkanen, who led Utah with 28 points, sank a 3-pointer off a three-quarter-court pass at the finish, but officials ruled the shot left his hand just after the final buzzer and thus was no good.

Zion out three weeks 

The three-team fight for the Western Conference lead had big news Tuesday as well as New Orleans star Zion Williamson learned he will be sidelined for at least three weeks.

Williamson, averaging 26.0 points and 7.0 rebounds a game, underwent an MRI exam Tuesday that confirmed he suffered a right hamstring strain in a 120-111 loss at Philadelphia on Monday and he will be re-evaluated in three weeks, the Pelicans said.

The setback comes with New Orleans at 23-14 and in a fight with Denver and Memphis for the Western Conference lead.

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