– Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 34
points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks over
the New Orleans Pelicans 120-108 on Tuesday.

Antetokounmpo hit 12-of-17 from the floor and 9-of-13 free
throws while adding six assists, a steal and a blocked shot as the Bucks
improved their NBA-best record to 43-7 thanks to a 42-24 scoring edge in the
third quarter.

“I had a good game but I could get better,”
Antetokounmpo said. “Closing down the third quarter, we didn’t do a good
job. We got sloppy.”

The Greek star still feels the sting of losing to Toronto in
last year’s Eastern Conference final and failing to lift the Bucks into their
first NBA Finals since 1974, three years after Milwaukee won its only

That’s why chasing the NBA one-season best record of 73-9 by
Golden State is not the Bucks’ major goal.

“It’s going to be good if we win 70 games. All that
hard work is going to pay off,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s going to be
even better if we get better every game and play for the championship.”

Brandon Ingram led the host Pelicans with 32 points, while
19-year-old rookie star Zion Williamson had 20 points despite 5-of-19 shooting
from the floor with seven rebounds and five assists.

“I’m happy he’s going to be out there and help his team
win,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s good playing against him. It’s going
to be a great duel for a lot of years.”

In Los Angeles, the Lakers got 36 points, nine assists and
seven rebounds from LeBron James and 18 points from Anthony Davis and Kyle
Kuzma as the hosts rolled over the San Antonio Spurs 129-102.

The Lakers improved the best record in the Western
Conference to 38-11, 3 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Los Angeles

James sank five 3-pointers in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the
fourth quarter to stretch the Lakers’ lead from 87-77 to 108-87 and seal San
Antonio’s fate.

“LeBron came out and hit five straight threes in 3 1/2
minutes, he got the lead for us and closed out the game early,” Davis

“We just want to come out and make sure we play defense
every night.”

DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 28 points.

NBA scoring leader James Harden, chasing a third consecutive
NBA scoring crown, poured in 40 points, passed off 12 assists and grabbed nine
rebounds to power the Houston Rockets over visiting Charlotte 125-110.

Harden could match the third-longest run of scoring titles
in NBA history, behind only the record seven seasons in a row of scoring crowns
won by Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.

Serbian center Nikola Jokic scored 29 points, grabbed 13
rebounds and passed out nine assists to spark the Denver Nuggets over visiting
Portland 127-99. Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 21 points.


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