WASHINGTON (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists for his third consecutive triple-double to lead the Milwaukee Bucks past the Washington Wizards 133-122 Monday night for their fourth consecutive victory.
The Bucks pulled away late after letting a 26-point, third-quarter lead slip to five midway through the fourth. When the Wizards got within seven in the final minutes, Antetokounmpo scored the next four points to make it a double-digit game again.
“I’m not Kobe,” Antetokounmpo said. “I just try to be a basketball player. I don’t look at the clock and say, ‘Oh now we are up two or we’re down two, let me take over the game.’ No, I just make the right decision at the right moment. Sometimes it’s going to be score, sometimes it’s going to be pass.”
Antetokounmpo combined for 64 points, 26 rebounds and 21 assists in the two-game series at Washington that Milwaukee swept. The back-to-back NBA MVP also had 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the first triple-double of this run against the New York Knicks last week.
“He’s been in a good place mentally,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “The way he’s playing and creating for others and creating for himself and getting to the free throw line, he’s in a good place. He’s playing great basketball.
Antetokounmpo became the third player this season with a triple-double in three games in a row, joining Washington’s Russell Westbrook, who did it twice, and Miami’s Jimmy Butler. His seventh career 30-point triple-double passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most in team history, and he’s the first Bucks player to have three triple-doubles in a row.
“It’s not always about scoring,” Antetokounmpo said. “You can manipulate the game in different ways: passing, finding your teammates, putting them in the right spot.”
The Bucks kept pace with Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia and are now two games back with Brooklyn in between.
Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 37 points after sitting out Saturday to rest a sore left knee. Russell Westbrook had 23 points and a season-high 17 assists.
“We were just taking some precautionary measures,” Beal said. “The knee feels a lot better, my whole body feels great. I felt refreshed and rejuvenated tonight.”
Washington has lost four in a row, leading coach Scott Brooks to say: “It’s no fun losing. There’s no Cs or Bs like I used to always get. You either get an A or you get an F, and when you lose it’s an F.”
ALMOST BLOWN LEAD
Washington has had a penchant for coming back and coming up short this season. Budenholzer praised the Wizards for clawing back, even though the Bucks had plenty of unforced errors to pave the way to a tight game.
“I felt like maybe we weren’t as focused as we needed to be at that point when we went up,” he said. “I thought we had some sloppy defensive possessions, some sloppy offensive possessions and then they took advantage of it.”
Every Milwaukee player who got on the court scored, and seven reached double figures.
“Nobody settled just to get a shot up,” said Khris Middleton, who rebounded from a 1 for 5 start to score 23. “We realize we have many different matchups we can go to.”
Bucks: Brook Lopez scored 22 points and had four blocks in another game against twin brother Robin. … Axel Toupane was inactive the day after signing a two-way contract.
Wizards: Davis Bertans (right calf tightness) and Neto (left rib contusion) were cleared to play about an hour before tipoff after being considered questionable. Bertans made three of his five 3-point attempts to finish with nine points, though Brooks thought the 28-year-old forward “struggled” and labored at times. … Rui Hachimura scored 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting and made a career-high four 3-pointers.
Bucks: Visit the 76ers on Wednesday in the teams’ first meeting this season.
Wizards: Host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in the third of a five-game home stand.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports