LOS ANGELES, Dec 5 — Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 35 points propelled the Milwaukee Bucks to a 13th straight NBA victory yesterday, a hard-fought 127-103 win over the Pistons in Detroit.
Antetokounmpo, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, powered through a contentious encounter, pulling down six rebounds and handing out nine assists as the Bucks continued their domination of the Pistons.
The Bucks improved to 19-3 — tied for best record in the league with the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers, who beat the Utah Jazz 121-96 in Salt Lake City.
Milwaukee, whose eight wins over Detroit last season included a first-round playoff sweep, have now notched two wins this season over the Pistons.
The Bucks led by 11 at halftime, and by 20 after three quarters as the Pistons proved unable to mount a challenge.
Khris Middleton added 17 points for Milwaukee and Eric Bledsoe chipped in 15.
Andre Drummond led Detroit with 23 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.
Antetokounmpo and Detroit’s Blake Griffin clashed early and often.
Midway through the second quarter, Griffin elbowed Antetokounmpo in the face and teammates hurried to intervene as the two exchanged words.
Antetokounmpo answered in the third with a monster block of Griffin’s layup attempt, and less than a minute later when he hit the court after a foul by Bruce Brown, Griffin angered the Bucks by stepping over Antetokounmpo’s legs.
Middleton raced over and admonished Griffin and after a lengthy review Brown, Griffin and Middleton all received technical fouls.
“At that point, I was, like, tired,” Antetokounmpo said. “I was, like, ‘They’re going to do this all night.’
“At first I was trying to talk back, trying to let them know this is more than basketball. We can stop playing basketball, we can fight.
“At the end of the day my teammates want me in the game, my teammates want me to keep my head in the game.”
The tough-guy posturing didn’t help the Pistons and the Bucks emerged with their longest winning streak since 1973.
The Lakers put on a defensive clinic in Utah, coming up with 13 steals and blocking 12 shots as they held the Jazz to 41 percent shooting.
Anthony Davis, battling illness that saw him receive intravenous fluids at halftime of the Lakers’ win at Denver on Tuesday, scored 26 points.
Davis added five rebounds, six assists and three blocked shots.
LeBron James added 20 points and handed out 12 assists for the Lakers, who didn’t trail at all after the first quarter and led by as many as 25 in the second half.
“Thirty-two fastbreak points on the second night of a back-to-back, that’s just great effort by our team,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said after his team’s 10th straight road win.
“We just want to continue to battle on the defensive end,” Davis said. “We played with great pace tonight and were able to get points in transition. We just played together.”
The Jazz lost for the fifth time in sixth games — but suffered just their second home defeat of the season.
In Boston, the Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 112-93, handing the Heat their first defeat of a three-game road trip that had included wins over the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors.
Miami were without coach Erik Spoelstra, who returned to Florida on Wednesday for the birth of his second son.
The Heat led by as many as 11 points early in the second quarter, but Boston closed the half on a 28-9 scoring run to take a 52-44 lead at halftime and never trailed in the second half.
Jaylen Brown scored 31 points and Kemba Walker added 28 for the Celtics, who withstood a 37-point performance by Miami’s Jimmy Butler.
The Dallas Mavericks won a see-saw battle against the Minnesota Timberwolves 121-114.
The Timberwolves led 93-91 with 7:19 remaining when the Mavericks made three-pointers on five of their next six possessions to seize the momentum.
Dwight Powell led the Mavs with 24 points, connecting on nine of nine from the field.
Luka Doncic added 22 points — a relatively quiet night for the Mavs’ young star after his 33-point, 18-rebound performance against New Orleans on Tuesday. — AFP