LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrated his confirmation as an NBA All-Star team captain by pouring in 41 points to propel the Bucks to a 141-131 NBA victory over the Indiana Pacers on Friday as the Memphis Grizzlies’ slide continued.
The Bucks scored a season-high 85 first-half points and led by as many as 33 before fending off a late Pacers rally in Indianapolis, notching a third straight victory.
Indiana had sliced the deficit to eight points with just over four minutes remaining, trying to make the most of Antetokounmpo’s troubles at the free-throw line by fouling him repeatedly.
The Milwaukee star, who pulled down 12 rebounds and handed out six assists, helped fend them off by making five free throws in the space of a minute and while the Pacers got the gap to seven points with 2:06 to play they would get no closer.
Jrue Holiday scored 23 points and handed out nine assists for the Bucks.
Myles Turner led the Pacers with 24 points.
Antetokounmpo’s dominant performance, including a breathtaking fourth-quarter dunk over Oshae Brissett, came a day after he was confirmed as a starter and team captain for next month’s All-Star game, as the top vote-getter from the Eastern Conference.
It will be the third time the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player has had the honor, after leading teams in the mid-season exhibition in 2019 and 2020.
The Grizzlies fell 111-100 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis, where the game was preceded by a moment of silence to honor the memory of Tyre Nichols — the Memphis man whose fatal beating has led to murder charges against five police officers.