Khris Middleton scored 39 points as the Milwaukee Bucks moved closer to securing the top record in the Eastern Conference with a 128-118 victory Thursday over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers.
The win came with some concern, however, as Giannis Antetokounmpo, one of the favorites for the MVP award, left the game with 7:46 remaining and did not return after a right ankle injury that occurred when he stepped on the foot of the Clippers’ Garrett Temple.
Antetokounmpo’s status moving forward was not immediately known, although he did remain on the bench for the remainder of the contest. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer did not express significant concern after the game and said the team would wait to see how their star player feels on Friday.
“I think we all are hoping that he can push through or be healthy going forward,” Budenholzer said to reporters.
Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points as the Bucks (57-19) approached the fifth 60-win season in franchise history and the first since the 1980-81 team that went to the Eastern Conference finals. Milwaukee remained four games ahead of the second-place Toronto Raptors, who defeated the New York Knicks on Thursday.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 21 points and JaMychal Green added 16 as the Clippers saw their season-best six-game winning streak come to an end. The Clippers went 3-1 on their four-game road swing, which included a victory at Minnesota on Tuesday to clinch a playoff berth.
Wilson Chandler added 15 points as the Clippers (45-31) dropped one spot in the Western Conference standings into sixth place with six games remaining. Los Angeles was playing without leading scorer Lou Williams, who was getting a day of rest.
The Bucks took a 28-25 lead after one quarter and used a 16-2 run into the second period to build a 37-27 advantage. Antetokounmpo scored 12 points in the second quarter as Milwaukee built its lead to 67-46 at halftime.
The Clippers scored the first six points of the third quarter, but the Bucks finished off the period on a 23-11 run. Middleton had 13 points in the third as Milwaukee carried a 100-77 lead into the final quarter.
The victory gave the Bucks an NBA-best 32-6 record at home, one-half game better than the Denver Nuggets.
Sterling Brown and Eric Bledsoe each scored 15 points for the Bucks, who won without forward Tony Snell (ankle), forward Nikola Mirotic (thumb), center Pau Gasol (ankle) and guard Malcolm Brogdon (heel).
—Field Level Media