Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 15 points in his return from a six-game injury absence as the Milwaukee Bucks used a balanced attack to beat the Atlanta Hawks 120-109 on Thursday in Atlanta.
Antetokounmpo finished well below his scoring average, but it didn’t matter because he got plenty of help from his supporting cast as seven Bucks players finished in double figures.
Jrue Holiday scored 23 points and Brook Lopez posted a double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds for Milwaukee, who were playing on the road for the ninth time in the last 10 contests.
Lopez said the Bucks have more offensive depth than in previous seasons, which will come into play if they are to make a long postseason run.
“We have extra grit and toughness that we haven’t had the past couple years in the playoffs,” said Lopez. “We’ve got a lot of guys who add that extra toughness.
“All this extra stuff we are going through during the regular season is going to help us in the playoffs.”
The Bucks sealed the win with a 7-0 run late in the game after the Hawks had cut a 19-point deficit to eight with a 15-4 run in the fourth.
Not only was Antetokounmpo’s 15 points below his season average of 29, Milwaukee’s second-leading scorer Khris Middleton had a light scoring night with just 10 points.
But the Bucks won their third straight as the Bucks bench outscored the Hawks reserves 44-16.
“Watching this team play six games, I realize this team is really, really good,” Antetokounmpo said. “I just want to help as much as I can.”
Pat Connaughton delivered 14 points off the bench and fellow reserves Jeff Teague and Bobby Portis scored 11 points apiece.
Hawks star Trae Young, returning from a calf injury that sidelined him for two games, finished with 15 points. Young had nine assists, but also turned the ball over a half dozen times.
“That was the key to the game plan,” said Holiday, who took on the job of guarding Young. “I think we did a pretty good job of not giving him any easy, open looks.”
Atlanta guard Bogdan Bogdanovic led all scorers with 28 points. Solomon Hill added a season-high 18 points, and Clint Capela registered a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Hawks, who lost for just the second time in their last nine games.
Curry stays hot
Elsewhere, Stephen Curry once again carried the offensive load for the Golden State Warriors, scoring 33 points in a 119-101 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Curry recorded his ninth consecutive game with 30-plus points to help the Warriors secure their fourth consecutive win and fifth in their past six games.
“He’s been incredible lately, even by Steph standards,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
“It’s the result of a lifetime of training and hard work, but he just does it night after night. We’re in a very good place right now. The guys feel good about themselves.”
Canada’s Andrew Wiggins finished with 23 points and Juan Toscano-Anderson delivered a career-high 20 points on eight-of-nine shooting from the floor.
Collin Sexton returned after missing the previous two games with a groin injury and led Cleveland with 30 points. But they lost for the third time in the last four games.