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NBA in-season tournament: Bucks, Lakers edge Knicks, Suns into semi-finals

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Milwaukee: Giannis Antetokounmpo had 35 points and 10 assists, Damian Lillard added 28 points, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the New York Knicks 146-122 on Tuesday night to reach the semifinals of the NBA’s inaugural In-Season Tournament.

The Bucks posted a season high in scoring, shooting 60.5% (23 of 38) from 3-point range and 60.4% overall to set up a matchup with Indiana in Las Vegas on Thursday.

“Tonight was a huge step. We wanted to get to Vegas but when we get to Vegas we’ve got to take care of business. We’ve got two games to win there,” coach Adrian Griffin said. “I thought tonight our team was the better team. Our bench was terrific and I thought the crowd was terrific. It had all the makings of a playoff game.”

Griffin anticipates a strong challenge from the Pacers.

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“We expect their best, but when we are at our best, I love our chances,” he said.

Lillard said the Bucks are headed to Las Vegas with the intent of bringing home a championship and setting a tone for the rest of the season.

“You come out of this thing on top, I think it’s a pretty strong statement and something that everybody around the league has to respect,” he said.

Milwaukee is 5-0 in tournament play and extended its home winning streak to nine games. The Bucks (15-6) have won 10 of 12 overall.

Julius Randle scored a season-high 41 points for the Knicks, whose three-game winning streak was snapped. Jalen Brunson added 24 points and R.J. Barrett scored 23 for New York, which earned a wild-card berth in the knockout round through a point-differential tiebreaker.

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“Defensively, we didn’t really do anything all game. That’s the story. That’s it,” Brunson said. “They hit a lot of shots. They got comfortable. It’s on us to make them uncomfortable.”

Antetokounmpo had an injury scare less than two minutes into the game. After tipping in a missed shot, he landed on Randle’s foot and rolled his left ankle. Antetokounmpo fell to the floor in pain. He eventually limped up the court but stayed in the game and tallied 10 of the Bucks’ first 13 points.

LeBron James scored 15 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Lakers secured the last semifinal spot in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament with a 106-103 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

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Anthony Davis had 27 points and 15 rebounds and Austin Reaves scored 20 points for the top-seeded Lakers, who will face New Orleans on Thursday in Las Vegas. Milwaukee faces Indiana in the East semifinal.

James put on a masterful shooting performance down the stretch while also racking up 11 assists, eight rebounds and five steals. The 21-year veteran scored 15 of the Lakers’ first 19 points in the final period and got the assists on his teammates’ other two baskets while Los Angeles pulled ahead.

Kevin Durant scored 31 points, but he badly missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer for the Suns. Phoenix had won eight of 10 before losing to Los Angeles for the third time already this season.

Devin Booker cut the Lakers’ lead to 102-101 on a layup with 29 seconds to play, but Reaves drilled his third 3-pointer with 15 seconds left. Durant made another layup moments later, and Davis missed one of two free throws to open the door for Durant’s potential tying shot.

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Booker and Grayson Allen scored 21 points apiece for Phoenix.

While fans are still debating the merits of the In-Season Tournament, both the Lakers’ Darvin Ham and Phoenix’s Frank Vogel said their players are getting into the spirit of the event, particularly with the motivation to earn financial bonuses for their teams’ support personnel and younger players.

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“They’re well aware of that bag,” Ham said with a grin. “Money speaks, man.”

Bradley Beal missed his 11th straight game with his persistent back injury for the Suns, who hung in despite committing 22 turnovers while their two healthy superstars struggled with foul trouble. Booker picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter, while Durant entered the final period with four fouls and committed his fifth with 3:18 to play.

Phoenix committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter alone, the most by any team in the league this season. The Suns trailed by 15 in the first half, but scored 14 consecutive points out of halftime to take a lead.

source: hellomgazine.com

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