NBA Recap: 'Greek Freak' Antetokounmpo Leads Bucks to Sixth Straight Win

The Milwaukee Bucks stormed the court early, snatching an 11-point lead only three minutes into the game as Portland settled in for a long, drawn-out night.

Amidst a plague of injuries which have sidelined guard Damian Lillard (back) and centre Hassan Whiteside (hip), the Blazers produced a starting lineup – their eighth of this season – to include 6’8” veteran Anthony Tolliver at the centre and 20-year-old Gary Trent Jr, only the second start of his career. 

However, despite all odds, the Blazers kept the game close all night against one of the NBA’s top teams, coming within two points of Milwaukee in the fourth following a three from CJ McCollum. The 28-year-old shooting guard stepped up, putting on a fiery performance for Portland, hitting a game-high 37 points, accompanied by six rebounds and ten assists.

Milwaukee’s Brook Lopez and Wesley Matthews shut down the hype pretty quickly, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to extend Milwaukee’s lead and ensure the victory.

However, Portland remained dangerous on offence, despite their inability to finish the first time, shooting 48.5% from the field and 43.6% from beyond the arc. They topped Milwaukee in both stats as the Bucks only hit 47.2% and 37.2% respectively. The Blazers wrapped up the fixture with a season-high 32 assists, a stark turnaround from the league-worst 18.7 average they held at the start of the night.

Veteran forward Carmelo Anthony appeared more comfortable in his second game with Portland, recording 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists, whilst Skal Labissiere hit a season-high 22 points off the bench as well as a team-high 12 rebounds.

However, a season-high 129 points for Portland was not enough to hold off Milwaukee’s overbearing offence. Antetokounmpo brought his second triple-double of the season in less than three quarters, landing on 24 points, 19 rebounds and 15 assists. But it was guard Eric Bledsoe who stole the lead, hitting a team-high 30 points, with four rebounds and six assists. Pat Connaughton contributed 18 points off the bench.

Despite a step forward for the Blazers after a string off back-to-back double-digit losses behind them, the team continued to struggle on the boards, permitting a season-high 18 offensive rebounds and 27 second-chance points for the Bucks. It was these offensive rebounds which finally sunk the Blazers, preventing them from ever taking the lead.

The Bucks (12-3) send Portland (5-11) to Cleveland on a third consecutive loss as they face the Cavaliers this Saturday in their fifth of a six-game road trip.

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