NBA roundup: Bucks defeat Suns to clinch playoff spot
March 15 – Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists as the visiting Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 116-104 on Tuesday to become the NBA’s first team to reach the 50-win mark.
Brook Lopez had 21 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee, which won for the 21st time in its last 23 games and clinched a playoff spot for the seventh consecutive season. Jrue Holiday scored 12 points, while Jae Crowder and Bobby Portis Jr. had 11 apiece.
Devin Booker scored 20 of his 30 points in the second half for Phoenix. Deandre Ayton added 16 points and eight rebounds, Cameron Payne scored 13, Jock Landale had 12, and Chris Paul had 11 points and eight assists.
The Suns have lost three straight following a four-game winning streak.
Cavaliers 120, Hornets 104
Evan Mobley poured in 26 points in an efficient performance as Cleveland posted a second consecutive victory against host Charlotte with a win.
Mobley made 10 of 16 shots from the field and was 6-for-6 on free throws to go with a team-leading six rebounds. Cedi Osman came off the bench for 24 points, Caris LeVert poured in 22 points, Darius Garland posted 19 points, and Lamar Stevens and Ricky Rubio both had 11 points.
Charlotte’s Kelly Oubre Jr. returned after a one-game absence because of a sore back and provided 28 points for the Hornets. Terry Rozier had 22 points, reserve JT Thor chipped in with 11 points and Gordon Hayward notched 10 points.
Thunder 121, Nets 107
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 35 points to lead host Oklahoma City to a victory over Brooklyn.
Josh Giddey recorded his eighth career triple-double and his fourth of the season with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Luguentz Dort finished with 24 points, hitting a season-high six 3-pointers for Oklahoma City, while rookie Jalen Williams added 23 points and 10 rebounds.
The loss was just the Nets’ second in their last seven games and snapped a two-game winning streak. Mikal Bridges led Brooklyn with 34 points while Cameron Johnson added 23 for the game.
Knicks 123, Trail Blazers 107
Immanuel Quickley tallied 26 points and 10 rebounds, and visiting New York overcame a 16-point deficit to notch a victory over Portland.
Julius Randle added 24 points and 10 rebounds, and RJ Barrett scored 22 points for New York, which has won 11 of its past 14 games. Miles “Deuce” McBride scored a career-best 18 points and Josh Hart added 16 for the Knicks, who are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with just 11 games left.
Damian Lillard recorded 38 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Portland, which lost its fourth straight game and ninth in its past 12. Anfernee Simons scored 22 points and Matisse Thybulle added 15 for the Trail Blazers.
Wizards 117, Pistons 97
Bradley Beal poured in 36 points in 33 minutes and Washington cruised past visiting Detroit.
Beal made all but two of his 15 field-goal attempts as Washington won for just the second time in seven games, with both victories coming against the Pistons. Wizards forward Kristaps Porzingis piled up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists, four blocks and three steals.
Killian Hayes led the Pistons, who have lost 12 of their past 13 games, with 20 points and seven assists.
Raptors 125, Nuggets 110
Fred VanVleet knocked down eight 3-pointers and scored 36 points as Toronto — powered by a record-breaking opening quarter — defeated visiting Denver.
O.G. Anunoby added 24 points for the Raptors, who ended a three-game losing streak in their first game home after a 1-4 road trip. Nikola Jokic had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Western Conference-leading Nuggets, who have lost a season-high four in a row. VanVleet scored 14 points, sinking 4 of 5 shots from 3-point range, as Toronto led 49-30 after one quarter on 71.4 percent shooting from the field (20-for-28). It marked a Raptors’ franchise record for points in a quarter.
Toronto led by as many as 24 points before taking a six-point lead into the final quarter. Denver scored the first three points of the fourth to chop Toronto’s lead to three. Trent’s steal and dunk gave Toronto a 12-point lead with 6:51 remaining in the fourth. Anunoby’s dunk increased the margin to 16 with 4:41 to play. Jokic answered with four straight points, but VanVleet came back with a 3-pointer with 3:04 to play.
Spurs 132, Magic 114
Jeremy Sochan racked up 29 points and 11 rebounds, and San Antonio hit a franchise-record 22 3-pointers while walloping visiting Orlando.
Zach Collins added 25 points for San Antonio, with Doug McDermott and Devonte’ Graham hitting for 15 each. Paolo Banchero led Orlando with 27 points while Wendell Carter Jr. added 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Spurs led by six at halftime and expanded their advantage to 98-89 heading into the fourth period after shooting 54.5 percent from the floor and 58.6 percent on 3-pointers through the first three quarters. Orlando got within six points with 6:28 to play before San Antonio scored the next seven points to clinch the win, its second in its past three games.
Lakers 123, Pelicans 108
Anthony Davis scored 35 points with 17 rebounds against his former team and Malik Beasley added 24 points as visiting Los Angeles turned a 75-point first half into a victory over New Orleans.
Brandon Ingram scored 22 points for the Pelicans against his former team. Davis and Ingram were key components in a trade between the teams before the 2020 season. Ingram returned after missing the past two games with an ankle injury.
The Lakers were up 75-40 at halftime following their highest scoring first half of the season. The Lakers made 15 of their 27 attempts (55.6 percent) from 3-point range in the first two quarters. It was the most made 3-pointers in a half in franchise history. New Orleans pulled within 107-94 with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before Los Angeles finished off the victory.