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Antetokounmpo takes over down stretch as Bucks hold off Nets

Some teams might panic when a 26-point lead gets trimmed to nine with plenty of time on the clock.

The Milwaukee Bucks simply give the ball to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo scored eight points and assisted on Khris Middleton’s 3-pointer in a 13-4 run that put away a 129-115 victory over the Brooklyn Nets Saturday at Fiserv Forum.

Antetokounmpo’s assist on Middleton’s 3-pointer gave him a triple-double of 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. His 10th assist came just seconds after his 10th rebound.

The Bucks pushed their record to 25-10, best in the NBA. They took over the NBA lead on Friday when Toronto (26-11) lost at Orlando.

Brook Lopez and Middleton did much of the heavy lifting in the first three quarter. Lopez made 7 of 15 threes in the first 36 minutes for 24 points. Middleton had 22 points at that point and finished with 29. He started the Bucks’ last run with a driving banker, and capped the run with his 3-pointer.

Malcolm Brogdon chipped in another solid game with 18 points and six rebounds.

Antetokounmpo made 13 of 17 shots and Middleton went 11 for 15 as Milwaukee’s starting forwards combined for 24-of-32 shooting.

The Bucks closed the first half with a 28-12 run to take a 71-52 lead into the half. Brooklyn opened the third quarter with a 12-4 run to close within 75-64 when Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer took a timeout.

Lopez drilled a 3-pointer out of the timeout to start a 20-5 Bucks run that made it 95-69. The Nets chipped it down to 106-86 after three and proceeded to make things even more uncomfortable as the fourth quarter went along.

DeMarre Carroll’s 3-pointer capped a 14-0 run, and suddenly the Nets were within 109-100 with 8:00 still to go.

Antetokounmpo stepped up and drilled his second 3-pointer of the night to stop that run, but a 3-pointer and a floating bank shot by Shabazz Napier had the Nets within 116-109 with 4:51 left. Middleton’s driving bucket started an 8-0 run where Antetokounmpo scored the final six to put the game away.

Napier led the Nets with 32 points, Kenneth Faried added 21 and DeMarre Carroll finished with 18. While the Nets bench totaled 80 points to just 21 for the Bucks’ bench, Milwaukee reserves still played a solid game. Four of the five Milwaukee reserves tallied positive totals in plus/minus ratings. D.J. Wilson seven points and seven boards.

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