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Giannis Antetokounmpo produced a scintillating 40-point masterclass but it was not enough to stop LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers from claiming a thrilling victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.
Antetokounmpo’s superb display, which also included nine rebounds and three assists, threatened to overwhelm the Cavs as they sought to bounce back from Sunday’s shock loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
But 30 points from James and 32 points from Kevin Love helped the Cavs hang on for a 124-119 victory at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena. James and Antetokounmpo seemed locked in their own personal duel for long periods of an absorbing contest and finished with similar figures.
Later, James admitted the 22-year-old Athens born Antetokounmpo, nicknamed “The Greek Freak”, was all but impossible to defend against. “He attacked non-stop for however many minutes he was on the floor.
You got to put multiple bodies in front of him and then when you do put multiple bodies in front of him, he’s still able to score. He’s great in transition and great getting at the rim,” James said. The high-scoring contest saw three other Cleveland players make double figures, with JR Smith posting 20 points and Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade grabbing 10 apiece.
Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, was backed by 22 points from Malcolm Brogdon and 20 from Khris Middleton. Cleveland improved to 5-6 with the win, while the Bucks fell to 4-6. Elsewhere Tuesday, Harrison Barnes poured on 31 points as the Dallas Mavericks made a mockery of the form book with an upset over the Washington Wizards.
The Mavs, owners of a league-worst 1-10 record heading into the game, made sure of a 113-99 win after producing a late fourth quarter run. Dennis Smith posted 22 points and Wesley Matthews added 14 as the Mavericks snapped a six-game losing streak in style.
Dallas had led 64-53 at half-time and opened up a 16-point lead at one stage in the second half. However, they were given a scare when Washington closed to 90-88 with 9:09 remaining.
Yet Dallas responded with a 15-5 run to clinch a deserved win for the Texas franchise. “We came into the game with a great collective force and collective will,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. -AFP