Giannis Antetokounmpo returns to Bucks' lineup on 27th birthday
The reigning Finals MVP had missed the previous two games with a sore right calf.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo came back from a two-game absence and scored 27 points on his 27th birthday to help the Milwaukee Bucks defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-104 on Monday night.
The two-time MVP made all three of his 3-point attempts and also had 12 rebounds in his return from a sore right calf as the Bucks won for the 10th time in 11 games. He scored 15 points in the fourth quarter.
“Guys are playing with confidence, playing together,” said Antetokounmpo, who went 6 of 7 on free throws. “We’re guarding together. We’re in a very, very good spot right now.”
Milwaukee split the two games it played without Antetokounmpo, losing 97-93 at Toronto and rolling to a 124-102 home victory over Miami.
Jrue Holiday had 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds against the Cavs. Khris Middleton provided 21 points and eight assists. Pat Connaughton scored 12, and Bobby Portis had 10 points and 16 rebounds.
The Bucks are undefeated this season when Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Holiday are all in the lineup.
Donte DiVincenzo was briefly assigned to the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks’ NBA G League affiliate, to get some practice sessions as he works his way back from a torn left ankle ligament. DiVincenzo hasn’t played since injuring the ankle in a first-round playoff series against Miami last season. Budenholzer said DiVincenzo “continues to do well and probably exceed our expectations” but didn’t offer a timeline for the former Villanova star’s potential return.
Antetokounmpo is scoring 27.6 points per game this season to rank third in the NBA, behind Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant and Golden State’s Stephen Curry. He’s also averaging 11.8 rebounds and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Denver’s Nikola Jokić is the only other NBA player averaging at least 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists this season.