NBA roundup: Bucks victorious against Cavaliers, Lakers win in LeBron's return
Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was once again the best player on the floor to lead his Milwaukee Bucks to a 117-102 victory against the breakout Cleveland Cavaliers.
Both teams entered the contest as a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference, and despite a 29-point effort from offseason trade acquisition Donovan Mitchell, the Cavs had no answer for the Bucks' future Hall-of-Famer.
Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting, hitting 10 of his 14 free throws while adding nine rebounds, six assists, and two blocks.
While usual running-mate Jrue Holiday was not at his sharpest, shooting four-of-13 for his nine points, it was veteran center Brook Lopez who turned out to be the Bucks' second star.
Lopez scored eight points without missing a field goal, hitting both of his three-point attempts, and he was a force defensively, blocking six shots for the second time this season. It was the fifth time from his 17 games that he has blocked at least five shots.
His 2.6 blocks per game is a new career-high in his 15th season, and the second-best figure in the league, trailing only Myles Turner (2.8) of the Indiana Pacers.
Along with Antetokounmpo, the pair are anchoring the best defense in the league, conceding 105.9 points per 100 possessions – almost two points per 100 possessions better than any other team.
With the win, the Bucks are now 13-5 and 10-2 at home, while the Cavaliers fall to 12-7, and remain the third seed.
Around the league
The return of LeBron James has helped the Los Angeles Lakers win their fourth game from their past five outings, defeating the San Antonio Spurs 105-94.
After missing five games with an adductor injury, James was more than a little rusty as he committed nine turnovers for only the ninth time in his 1377-game career. However, he still chipped in 21 points on eight-of-17 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists.
Enjoying his best statistical start to a season since arriving with the Lakers, Anthony Davis scored a game-high 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, grabbing 15 rebounds to increase his career-high average to 12.6, and he blocked three shots.
The Indiana Pacers are meant to be in a rebuilding year, but after their 128-117 win against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, they now own the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Myles Turner continued his career-best season with an efficient 23 points on nine-of-11 shooting, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking two shots, while pick-and-pop partner Tyrese Haliburton had 15 assists and four steals to go with his 21 points. Haliburton leads the league in assists at 10.9 per game, and is the only player averaging over 9.4.
Kevin Durant was not to blame for the Nets' loss, scoring a game-high 38 points (15-of-31) with eight rebounds and eight assists, while Ben Simmons scored 20 points on perfect eight-for-eight shooting.
Cover photo: Collage: REUTERS