Antetokounmpo’s 42 point lead leads Bucks past Pelicans 128-119

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 42 points and 10 rebounds in his return from a one-game absence and the Milwaukee Bucks held off a late New Orleans surge to beat the Pelicans 128-119 on Monday night.

Brook Lopez scored 30 points by combining four 3-pointers with opportunistic playing in the paint. The Bucks led by as many 18 points at the end of the fourth quarter. CJ McCollum’s collapse brought the Pelicans to 117-112 points.

Jrue Holiday, a former Pelicans star, responded with a late 3, and Lopez soon afterwards to seal the deal and make it four consecutive losses for New Orleans. This comes on the heels of a seven-game winning streak.

Milwaukee held a lead of double-digits for long periods, while Zion Williamson, the Pelicans’ star power forward, was frustrated for most of game.

Holiday guarded Williamson, who scored only nine points during the first three quarters. Williamson then scored nine more in the final 12 minute to complete the 18-point victory.

Williamson was clearly annoyed when he was given a technical foul for complaining angrily about John Conley during the third quarter. His late surge was a catalyst for a 22-7 win.

Jonas Valanciunas was able to score a season-high 37 and grab 18 rebounds for New Orleans. However, he only made one of his seven-year-old career-high-tying three-pointers in halftime.

Holiday ended the match with 18 points and 11 assists. The Bucks won for the tenth time in 13 games.

After a nearly 11-month rehabilitation from knee surgery to fix a torn anteriorcruciate ligament, Joe Ingles made his Bucks debut as a reserve player. Playing for the first time since Jan. 30, when he was with Utah, Ingles saw 15 minutes of action but missed all four of his shots — all from 3-point range — and did not score.

Multiple Bucks defenders tried to keep Williamson away from the basket at the beginning, but the ball ended up finding Valanciunas on the perimeter. The Lithuanian big man hit 6 of 8 3-point attempts and scored 28 points in the first half alone — and New Orleans needed all of it to keep pace with the Bucks.

Antetokounmpo returned from left knee pain and scored 26 points in the first period. His shots included a 3, a Eurostep layup, a 3 and an alley-oop dunk.

Milwaukee led by as high as 11 points during the first half, when Antetokounmpo made it 38-27. New Orleans had already cut the lead by 2 points several times before the Bucks won the half 66-61.

TIP-INS

Bucks: Pat Connaughton scored eleven points. New Orleans was outscored 54-42 in the paint. Antetokounmpo was able to make 17 of 22 free throws. … Shot 55.6% (45 out of 81 overall), including 13 out of 40 deep.

Pelicans: F Brandon Ingram (left severe toe contusion), missed his 11th consecutive game. F Larry Nance Jr. left the game with a sore right Achilles. … Hit 18 of the 45 3s and shot 42.2% (42 out of 99) overall. … The first loss in eight games at home.

UP NEXT

On Wednesday, Bucks will be in Cleveland

Pelicans: Host San Antonio on Thursday.

___

AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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