By CLIFF BRUNT – AP sportswriter
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 39 points and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 142-115 Tuesday night for their fifth straight win.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer doesn’t want to mess with a good cause. Milwaukee is averaging 128.4 points and shooting 49% from the field during his winning streak.
“I just want them to keep playing,” he said. “I don’t want to screw them up. I will avoid them.”
Antetokounmpo made 13 of 19 shots and had seven rebounds and seven assists. Budenholzer said Antentokounmpo continues to dominate without forcing things and that helps the team.
“If a team wants to throw extra bodies at him and turn him into a passerby, he’s more than willing, more than capable,” Budenholzer said. “And the boys shoot well.”
Khris Middleton had 25 points and nine assists, and Bobby Portis added 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Bucks, who posted a season-high scoring and shot 53% (53 for 100) from the field.
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Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 33 points, a career-high 14 assists and eight rebounds for the Thunder. It was the sixth time in seven games since the All-Star break that Gilgeous-Alexander had at least 30 points.
“He’s just a great player,” said Budenholzer. “We all talked about it in the dressing room after the game. He’s impressive. There’s a ton of the ball in his hands but he’s still making the right moves.”
The Thunder have allowed at least 120 points five times in seven games since the All-Star break. Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said his team could do better.
“We are capable, but it will take sharper execution, better effort, more cohesion and more competitiveness for us to maintain this level,” he said.
Antetokounmpo deflated a 30-foot buzzer in the first half to give the Bucks a 76-65 lead at the break. Once known as an easy player to score around the basket, he had the confidence to keep his wrist in the air long after his shot.
“I shot a lot of deep shots in one game,” he said. “It was one of those days when it came in. It felt good because I’ve been working on it for a while now.”
Antetokounmpo scored 18 points in the first half and helped the Bucks shoot 59.2% from the field. Oklahoma City shot 58.5% before the break. Gilgeous-Alexander led the Thunder with 21 points and seven assists.
The Bucks opened the second half with a fast 9-2 run and led 105-93 into the fourth.
Antetokounmpo scored seven points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. His 3-pointer put the Bucks at 115-96.
Bucks: G Grayson Allen missed game with left hip pain … Ex-Thunder forward Serge Ibaka had 14 points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes. He was warmly greeted by the fans as he checked in in the first quarter. … fell two points short of their season high for points with 76 points in the first half.
Thunder: Gilgeous-Alexander deflated a 28-foot-3 pointer with 5.0 seconds left in the first quarter to round out a 13-point opener with six assists. … Rookie Lindy Waters III posted a career-high 16 points. … rookie G Tre Mann left the game early with what appeared to be an ankle injury. He returned and finished the race with 11 points in 29 minutes.
Lu Dort, Oklahoma City’s No. 2 leading scorer, will be out for the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a cartilage tear in his left shoulder. There, Ty joins Jerome and Mike Muscala as Thunder players who had proceedings on Tuesday, the team said. There, an established defender, stepped up his offensive play this season, averaging 17.2 points. The team said he expects to return to full basketball activities before next season.
Gilgeous-Alexander has been efficient during his recent climb. He shoots 57.1% from field and has shot at least 50% in five of seven games since the All-Star break. He also averaged 7.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds during that span.
The Bucks passed the Thunder 53-36 and outscored Oklahoma City 15-5 in second chance points.
Bucks: Hosts the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
Donner: Visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
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