Giannis Antetokounmpo lifts Bucks over dogged Pelicans

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Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 38 points to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 129-125 defeat of the lowly-ranked New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA on Thursday night.

Third-placed in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks had trouble shaking off the visitors, who are 11th in the West, only edging clear down the stretch after scores were level at the last break.

Antetokounmpo also grabbed 10 rebounds while Khris Middleton backed him up with 31 points.

The Pelicans were led by Zion Williamson’s 34 and Brandon Ingram’s 23.

Kyrie Irving had 27 points and nine assists as the Brooklyn Nets extended their winning streak to eight games with a crushing 129-92 win over the visiting Orlando Magic.

James Harden scored 20 points alongside nine rebounds as the East’s second side took their record to 22-12 while continuing their longest winning run since moving from New Jersey to Brooklyn in 2012.

The streak is all the more impressive considering Kevin Durant was missing for his sixth straight game due to a hamstring injury.

Nikola Vucevic had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the 13-20 Magic.

The Memphis Grizzlies scored a 122-94 home win over the Los Angeles Clippers, with Tyus Jones scoring a career-high 20 points from the bench.

Dillon Brooks contributed 19 points for Memphis and Jonas Valanciunas and Ja Morant 16 each, with Valanciunas adding 15 rebounds.

Memphis restricted the Clippers’ big guns, with Kawhi Leonard held to just 17 points and Paul George making 13 in a three-from-12 shooting night.

In other games, the Philadelphia 76ers won 111-97 at home to the Dallas Mavericks, the New York Knicks beat the visiting Sacramento Kings 140-121, and the Washington Wizards won 112-110 at the Denver Nuggets.

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