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Antetokounmpo ties career scoring high, Bucks rout Cavs

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MILWAUKEE (AP) Giannis Antetokounmpo tied a career high with 34 points and the Milwaukee Bucks stunned the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-101 on Tuesday night.

Antetokounmpo added 12 rebounds and five assists while Milwaukee ended Cleveland’s four-game winning streak. Jabari Parker had 18 points and Michael Beasley had 17 off the bench for the Bucks.

LeBron James had 22 points for the Cavaliers, who fell to 13-3. Kyrie Irving added 20 points.

Milwaukee led by 22 points in the fourth quarter and cruised past the defending champions, who benched their starters midway through the final period.

The Bucks outscored Cleveland by 14 points in the third quarter.

Cleveland rode hot early shooting to a 14-point first quarter lead, but Milwaukee closed on a 10-0 run and trailed by only two at the end of the period.

The hot hands of Antetokounmpo and Beasley sparked Milwaukee in the second quarter as the Bucks built an advantage of eight points before leading 58-54 at the half.

FRIENDLY TO A FAULT

The Bucks took advantage of J.R. Smith‘s affable nature for an easy dunk.

Right before an inbound play, Milwaukee’s Jason Terry stood up off the bench to say hello to Smith, sharing a handshake and hug along the baseline. Smith was supposed to be covering Tony Snell, but with Smith mingling, Snell cut to the basket, received the inbound pass and dunked with nobody around.

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Channing Frye missed his second straight game following the death of his father on Nov. 24. He is expected to rejoin the team by Thursday. … Iman Shumpert (left hamstring strain) returned to the lineup after a one-game absence. … Cleveland’s bench totaled just five first-half points.

Bucks: Beasley, who entered averaging just more than eight points per game, scored 11 first-half points, connecting on 5 of 6 shots. … Milwaukee shot 57 percent in the first half.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night. Coach Tyronn Lue was an assistant under Clippers coach Doc Rivers in Boston and Los Angeles.

Bucks: At Brooklyn on Thursday night. Milwaukee has won 12 of its last 16 meetings with the Nets, dating to Jan. 9, 2009, including a 110-108 win in Milwaukee on Oct. 29.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.