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Bucks, Celtics, Kings reach knockout rounds

ISSAC BALDIZON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE GIANNIS Antetokounmpo delivers 33 points to power the Milwaukee Bucks to a 131-124 win over the Miami Heat to reach the knockout rounds of the NBA In-Season Tournament.

MIAMI (AFP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 33 points and Damian Lillard added 32 as the Milwaukee Bucks beat Miami 131-124 to reach the knockout rounds of the National Basketball Association In-Season Tournament.

On the final night of group-stage play in the NBA’s inaugural version of a World Cup, the Bucks won the East Group B crown at 4-0, taking the top Eastern Conference seed in the fight to reach next month’s semifinals in Las Vegas.

“We completed the task,” Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton said.

“To get to Vegas now, we’ve got to do a little bit more.”

“We want it. We’re hungry for it. It’s exciting times for us. We want to go to Vegas so we’re happy.”

The quarterfinals will find Boston at Indiana and New Orleans at Sacramento on Monday, with New York at Milwaukee and Phoenix at the Los Angeles Lakers next Tuesday.

Boston routed Chicago, 124-97, to win East Group C and advance while New York, second behind Milwaukee in Group B, beat Charlotte 115-91 and advanced as a wildcard based on superior point differential over Cleveland, 42-29.

Sacramento edged Golden State, 124-123, to win West Group C, rallying from 24 points down in the second quarter to advance.

The Warriors knew they had to win by 12 points to win the group on a point differential tiebreaker and took a 72-55 half-time lead before the Kings, led by 29 points from De’Aaron Fox, rallied late to trim the margin then swipe the triumph.

“We still wanted to win the game, it counts for the regular season, but we knew what the number was,” Fox said.

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