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Antetokounmpo takes charge as Bucks lead Cavs at half

Giannis Antetokounmpo decided he wouldn’t go down quietly in the first half of Friday night’s game at Cleveland.

After scoring just 13 point and taking just seven shots in Wednesday night’s loss at Indiana, the Milwaukee Bucks star forward came out firing. Antetokounmpo scored 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the first half, as the Bucks took a 61-47 lead at the break over the Cavaliers.

Antetokounmpo also dished out five assists and grabbed four rebounds in just 17 minutes.

The Bucks started the game down two starters. Khris Middleton (sprained right pinkie) and Malcolm Brogdon (left hamstring) were ruled out of action.

Middleton is in the middle of a horrendous slump. He’s shooting 29.3% (29 of 99) over his last seven games. That span includes a game where he was benched for the fourth quarter and overtime in a loss at New York, and a game he missed for personal reasons after the benching.

Tony Snell and Pat Connaughton started in their places. Snell became a factor quickly, making a pair of 3-pointers as the Bucks got out to a 9-0 lead. Antetokounmpo opened the game with a dunk, as the Bucks looked to get him going after scoring just 13 points and taking just seven shots in Wednesday’s loss at Indiana.

Rodney Hood gave the Cavs their first points on two free throws with 8:53 left in the quarter, and his tip-in provided Cleveland’s first field goal at the 7:01 mark.

The Bucks increased their lead to 13 at 21-8 on a Thon Maker 3-pointer, and led, 27-16, at the quarter.

Milwaukee pushed the lead to 15 at 42-27 on a Brook Lopez 3-pointer. Cleveland got it to as little as nine with a brief run, but Connaughton’s first points of the game — a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left, gave the Bucks a 61-47 lead at the break.

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