Bucks top Heat, clinch top seed in East
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton scored 33 points each, and the Bucks earned a 130116 win over the Heat on Thursday in the NBA bubble in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks trailed by as many as 23 in the first half, and were down 111-110 in the fourth quarter before going on a 20-0 run.
Antetokounmpo and Middleton played 30 and 34 minutes respectively after the stars both sat out the entire second half of their last game on Tuesday.
The Heat’s Jimmy Butler (sore right foot) did not play for a second consecutive game.
Zion can’t do it all
Zion Williamson scored 24 points (10-for-12 shooting in just under 22 minutes), including his first eight shots, but the Pelicans lost 140-125 to the Kings. Both teams are only 1-3 since the restart.
The Kings pulled even with the Pelicans in the standings and now are 2½ games behind the eighthplace Grizzlies with four games remaining. A team needs to be in ninth place and within four games of the eighth-place team to force a playoff.
Also on the court
Damian Lillard tied his franchise record with 11 three-pointers and scored 45 points, and the Trail
Blazers moved closer to the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference by beating the Nuggets 125-115.
♦ James Harden had 39 points and 12 assists to lead the Rockets to a 113-97 victory against the Lakers, who were playing without LeBron James (sore right groin).
♦ Deandre Ayton had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and the Suns beat the Pacers 114-99 for their fourth consecutive victory to move them out of the Western Conference basement.
♦ Kawhi Leonard scored 29 points to help the Clippers beat the Mavericks 126-111. The Clippers’ Patrick Beverley missed the game with a left calf strain.
Sixers star Ben Simmons suffered a partial and temporary dislocation of his left kneecap in a game Friday and is seeking treatment options. The team is unsure about the extent of the injury or how many games the All-Star could miss. Simmons definitely won’t play Friday against the Magic.
The Sixers already have clinched a playoff spot and cannot fall below sixth in the East standings.
♦ Mike Conley (right knee soreness), Rudy Gobert (rest) and Donovan Mitchell (left peroneal strain) all will miss the Jazz’s game Friday against the Spurs.
Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scores two of his 33 points against the Heat on Thursday.