Sixers get unpleasant look at a freak of nature

Sixers get unpleasant look at a freak of nature

BOX SCORE

MILWAUKEE — The “Greek Freak” was back in the lineup, and oh how that changes a game.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points, 18 rebounds and six assists in the Bucks’ 107-95 win over the Sixers on Monday after missing their previous matchup in Philadelphia. 

“He’s the head of their snake,” Brett Brown said before the game. “He’s the focal point of their offense and trying to find matchups that can guard him is challenging.”

The Sixers dropped to 24-23, while the Bucks improved to 27-22. 

• Joel Embiid did not play because of his back-to-back restriction. He was made available for consecutive games Sunday, but on Monday he was ruled out after playing 36 minutes the previous night against the Thunder. 

“There was a lot of loading,” Brown said. “There was a lot of up-and-down last night. It was always going to be a decision how we handled him this morning. When you look at it sort of in the totality with all the games coming up, we didn’t feel comfortable putting him in a situation tonight.” 

The Sixers fell to 2-8 without Embiid. They are planning for him to play in his first career back-to-back Friday at home against the Heat and Saturday on the road against the Pacers. He was with the team on the bench in Milwaukee.

• The Sixers shot a dismal 2 for 26 from three-point range. That equates to a mere 7.7 percent. Robert Covington (1 for 8), Dario Saric (0 for 8) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (0 for 4) took the majority of the attempts. Saric still finished with a team-high 19 points. 

• On the flip side, the Sixers went 21 for 23 at the line. They also limited turnovers to 14 but the Bucks committed only nine. 

• Ben Simmons finished with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists. Covington and Richaun Holmes, who played 23 minutes in Embiid's absence, scored 13 apiece. 

• Khris Middleton had another solid game against the Sixers with 19 points, seven rebounds and six dimes. 

• JJ Redick (leg) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) did not play. Watch Markelle Fultz (shoulder) go through pregame drills:

• Injury-hampered Bucks forward Jabari Parker was cleared to play this Friday. It will be his first game since suffering an ACL tear last February. 

All-Star sidelined for Sixers' game vs. Bucks

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All-Star sidelined for Sixers' game vs. Bucks

CAMDEN, N.J. — The first matchup between the oversized point guards will have to wait.

Ben Simmons will not face off against Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is sidelined because of soreness in his right knee, in the Sixers' Saturday evening game against the Bucks. Antetokounmpo is averaging 28.2 points, 10.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.3 blocks this season. 

That’s not the only absence.

Jerryd Bayless, who had started in place of JJ Redick (leg), is out with a sore left wrist. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot gets the nod at shooting guard.

“It’s another opportunity to show up and make some shots and prove that I can do that,” Luwawu-Cabarrot said at shootaround, also noting he has to play tough defense on Eric Bledsoe (17.7 points per game).

Reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon will also miss the game because of a personal matter, per the Journal Sentinel. Brogdon beat out Joel Embiid and Dario Saric for the award last season. 

Markelle Fultz (right shoulder) remains out. He worked on free throws, driving drills, and knocked down a jumper in the portion of shootaround available to the media.

Controversial no-call aids Bucks' last-second win

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Controversial no-call aids Bucks' last-second win

OKLAHOMA CITY — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 23 points, including the questionable game-winning basket with 1.3 seconds left, and the Milwaukee Bucks ended Oklahoma City's six-game winning streak, beating the Thunder 97-95 on Friday night.

Replays clearly showed Antetokounmpo stepped out of bounds on his drive, but officials Derek Stafford, Ben Taylor and Leon Wood refused to review the play after the buzzer sounded, despite the pleas of Thunder coach Billy Donovan and several of his players.

Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City with 40 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. The Thunder had gone 11-3 in December before playing Friday without one of its stars, Paul George, who sat out with left knee soreness.

Khris Middleton scored 20 points and John Henson added 18 points for the Bucks, who completed a sweep of the Northwest Division's top two teams on consecutive nights. Milwaukee rallied from 20 points down in the third quarter on Thursday to beat Minnesota, then jumped to a 22-point first-half lead against Oklahoma City and held on (see full recap).

Dennis Smith Jr.'s first triple-double helps Mavs beat Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS — Dennis Smith Jr. had his first career triple-double and the Dallas Mavericks made a franchise-record 22 3-pointers in a 128-120 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

Smith had 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He was 5 of 7 from 3-point range and 8 of 12 overall. Wesley Matthews made 4 of 7 3-pointers and scored 18 points, and Devin Harris hit 5 of 7 3-pointers and added 17 points to help Dallas win three consecutive game for the first time this season. Dwight Powell scored 15 points, J.J. Barea had 14 and Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki 13 each.

Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 33 points. DeMarcus Cousins had 32 points and 20 rebounds, Jrue Holiday added 23 points, and E'Twaun Moore had 16.

The Mavericks made 13 of 18 3-pointers as they built a 17-point halftime lead (see full recap).

Markkanen scores career-high 32 points as Bulls beat Pacers
CHICAGO — Nikola Mirotic came in and started firing away. Lauri Markkanen took over for Chicago in the second half.

The sharp-shooting big men just overwhelmed the Indiana Pacers.

Markkanen scored a career-high 32 points, Mirotic finished with 28 and the surging Bulls beat the Pacers 119-107 on Friday night for their third consecutive win.

"We just keep believing in each other and playing for each other," Markkanen said.

Led by Mirotic and Markkanen, Chicago made 18 of 39 3-point attempts in its 10th win in 12 games. Robin Lopez and Bobby Portis each scored 12 points, helping the Bulls to their seventh straight victory at home for their longest such streak since a seven-game run spanning two seasons in 2013 (see full recap).

Porter scores 26, Wizards hand Rockets 5th straight loss
WASHINGTON — The Houston Rockets won 25 of their first 29 games to notch the NBA's best record, then quickly entered their worst tailspin in nearly five years.

Otto Porter Jr. scored 26 points, Bradley Beal and Kelly Oubre Jr. had 21 each, and the Washington Wizards beat the Rockets 121-103 Friday night for Houston's fifth straight loss. It's the longest skid for the Rockets since dropping seven straight from Jan. 9-19, 2013.

NBA scoring leader James Harden matched his season low with 20 points for the Rockets. Chris Paul returned after missing three games with a strained groin and had eight points and six assists in 26 minutes.

Houston had completed a 14-game winning streak before the alarming slide (see full recap).