MILWAUKEE (AP) – Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 37 points and the Milwaukee Bucks rallied in the second half to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 119-111 on Monday night.
Antetokounmpo made 16 of his 24 field goal attempts with seven rebounds and six assists in 35 minutes. Milwaukee improved to 12-4 and 9-1 at home.
“I thought he played well with his teammates and then played well on his own,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Everyone made the right pass. If you don’t make the right pass, if you catch it too much, they can kill it with the different things they do on defense.”
Milwaukee outscored Portland 30-18 in the third quarter and took a 63-61 lead into halftime.
Bucks guard Jrue Holiday then scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a shot from behind the boards. Hoyday opened the half with a 3-pointer that gave the Bucks a 96-79 lead and Milwaukee’s first nine points.
“It was good to see him go in,” Budenholzer said. “He scored a lot of different goals.”
Grayson Allen played hard and had 17 points and 8 rebounds for Milwaukee.
Anfernee Simons led the Trail Blazers (10-7) with 29 points and Josh Hart added 17 points. Center player Jusuf Nurkic scored 16 points and 10 rebounds. Portland has lost three in a row.
“Obviously, playing Giannis is always going to be a tough night,” Simons said. “He’s just so hard to guard. It took all five of us to guard him.”
Portland led 32-30 after the first quarter and shot 58.3% from the field (14-of-24).
In the first half, the teams were in the lead 8 times. Antetokounmpo drove over Nurkic, but Simons sank a baseline shot just before the second-period buzzer to close the deficit to two.
Antetokounmpo scored 19 points in the third quarter and the Bucks took a 93-79 lead into the final quarter.
The Bucks star has absorbed some tough fouls, but said he’s not worried about them.
“I take a lot of hard shots, but at the end of the day, it’s basketball,” Antetokounmpo said. “I enjoy getting my body in shape. It sets my belly on fire and wakes me up. When I get hit, I enjoy it. I feel like I’m part of the game, I feel locked in, I feel aggressive.”
Bucks had 31 assists, scored 47 goals and moved the ball.
“There were some nice possessions, especially in the third quarter where everyone was touching it,” Allen said. “They changed sides several times. We were playing really well defensively and eventually we were going three, or attacking at the rim. “It’s fun to play like this.”
Trail Blazers: Rookie Shaydon Sharpe started in place of point guard Damian Lillard, who had a strained plantar muscle in his lower right foot. According to the Trail Blazers, Lillard will be re-evaluated in one to two weeks. The 19-year-old Sharpe, the seventh pick in the 2022 draft, averaged 9.7 points in 15 games. He scored two points on 1-of-9 shooting in 27 minutes.
Bucks: Pat Connaughton made his season debut after missing Milwaukee’s first 15 games with a right calf injury. Connaughton entered the game early in the second quarter and finished with seven points in 16 minutes … Khris Middleton and Wes Matthews battled the G League’s Wisconsin Herd earlier Monday. Middleton hasn’t played this season after undergoing left wrist tendinoplasty, and Matthews missed his third straight game with a torn right hamstring. Budenholzer did not give a timetable for his return.
Trail Blazers: Play at Cleveland on Wednesday.
Bucks: Host Chicago on Wednesday.
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