Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 24 points, Bucks beat Hornets 111-99 to win season series

Charlotte, N.C. (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points and 10 rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Hornets 111-99 on Thursday night to conclude a home-and-home set with Charlotte in a four-game season series.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Malik Beasley added 19 points – hitting five 3-pointers – and Bobby Portis had 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Bucks made 16 of 39 shots from beyond the arc and gave coach Doc Rivers his first four-game winning streak with the team.

The Bucks beat the Hornets by an average of 29.2 points this season – the largest margin in team history – after outscoring them by 38, 36 and 31 in the other three games. This game was close, but not by much.

“It’s veterans versus young players,” Rivers said of the matchups with the Hornets, three of which came after he was hired. “(Hornets coach) Steve Clifford is a very good coach and it’s obvious to see, but he’s got a group of young guys who are learning how to play winning basketball. And one of their best players (LaMelo Ball) is out.”

Milwaukee shot 55% in the first half, including 9 of 18 from 3, taking a 19-point lead at the break and facing a serious challenge in the second half.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, left, passes Portland Trail Blazers guard Ryan Rupert (72) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Monday, March 4, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
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Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns, left, drives to the basket in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, March 4, 2024, in Minneapolis.
Rudy Gobert and Michael Conley lead Timberwolves past Trail Blazers 119-114


Damian Lillard of the Milwaukee Bucks tries to get past Norman Powell of the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Monday, March 4, 2024, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Maurie Gash)
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The Bucks have moved the ball very well during their four-game winning streak and have emphasized the extra pass to turn good shots into great shots.

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Portis said it’s a reflection of Rivers’ leadership.

“Shout out to the doctor,” Portis said. “Having a guy who can sit down with everybody and tell every player what he expects from them, it gives you more understanding of your role. And I think when you move the ball, play free and drive and kick, it gives energy to the ball. The ball finds the right man and everyone lines up and takes a shot at him.”

Brandon Miller led the Hornets with 21 points, and Miles Bridges added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Initially it looked like it would be a repeat of Tuesday night when the Bucks held the Hornets to 26 points in the first half en route to a 123-85 win in Milwaukee.

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Milwaukee quickly took control, taking a 10–2 lead behind Antetokounmpo’s driving dunk.

The Hornets briefly got back into the game late in the first quarter when Thanasis Antetokounmpo was whistled for a technical foul on the bench for arguing a non-foul call against his younger brother Giannis. Thanasis Antetokounmpo yelled at officials after his brother and Charlotte Bridges and Grant Williams scrambled for the ball under the basket. Giannis Antetokounmpo eventually got the loose ball and scored off the glass.

But the Hornets couldn’t maintain the momentum, as the Bucks closed the first half with a 24-10 run behind Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, who finished with 17 points.

Clifford was not really happy with his team’s defense.

“We gave up drives where we had the wrong stances, the wrong angles and no help,” Clifford said. “People shouldn’t be blown away by us like they were.”

Miller said the Bucks are playing at a “high clip”, adding “I think they’re getting ready for the playoffs, so it’s definitely a great team.”

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