The Milwaukee Bucks raised a number to the rafters at halftime Sunday afternoon. In the two halves surrounding the ceremony, they watched the man wearing the next number most likely to go up lead them to an easy victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out seven assists and blocked four shots, as the Bucks rolled to an easy 127-105 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Fiserv Forum.
In a halftime ceremony, the Bucks retired the No. 8 worn by Marques Johnson, honoring his great seven seasons with the team from 1977-’84. Johnson is now a television analyst for Bucks games on Fox Sports Wisconsin.
Antetokounmpo, playing in a manner that makes it seem sure his No. 34 will eventually go up in the rafters, showed no ill effects from rolling his ankle on Friday night for the second time in five days. He made 11 of 16 from the field.
More important, his presence opened up the offense for everyone. Six other Bucks players scored in double figures, with Khris Middleton and George Hill added 17 each. Brook Lopez added 14, and Eric Bledsoe, Tony Snell and Sterling Brown had 12 each.
The Bucks methodically pulled away in a game that seemed an exercise of inevitability. Milwaukee outscored the Cavs in the first, second and fourth periods and played to a 22-22 draw in the third.
The game was a marked difference from Wednesday night’s 107-102 loss at Cleveland, a game Antetokounmpo sat out with a slightly sprained right ankle.
The Bucks (55-19) reduced their magic number to four for clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference, as the Toronto Raptors lost to the Charlotte Hornets, 115-114, on a half=court shot at the buzzer.
Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with 20 points and 19 rebounds, but the Bucks kept Collin Sexton and Jordan Carkson in check compared after those two broke loose Wednesday night. Clarkson finished with 19 points, but went 7 for 16. and Sexton finished with 18 points, but went 6 for 15. Cleveland shot just 42.7% (41 for 96).
The Bucks shot 60% in the first half (27 for 45) and finished at 55.2% (48 for 87). Hill was especially effective, going 7 for 8, with his only miss being a 3-pointer.