Milwaukee Bucks star Khris Middleton missed Wednesday's win over the Indiana Pacers, however the reigning NBA champions are hopeful his knee injury is a short-term problem after positive MRI results.

Middleton had warmed up prior to the 114-99 victory, but did not take his place in the side missing seven players, including superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo – who entered COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday.

Bucks small forward Middleton had hyperextended his left knee in Monday's 117-103 loss to the Boston Celtics and was forced out of the contest.

Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer confirmed Middleton had undergone an MRI which offered reason for encouragement.

"I think we consider everything very fortunate," Budenholzer told reporters. "This should be very minimal and short. We'll see how he feels [Thursday] and going into the game Friday, I think we'll be hopeful."

Antetokounmpo joined Wes Matthews and Donte DiVincenzo in being unavailable due to entering league protocols.

To clear protocols, a player must be out for a minimum of 10 days or return two negative PCR tests at least 24 hours apart.

"We'll follow all the guidelines that the league has laid out," Budenholzer said. "Hope he's just healthy and taking care of himself."

Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has been ruled out of Wednesday's game against the Indiana Pacers after entering the NBA's health and safety protocols.

Antetokounmpo is the latest big-name player to be listed in the league's COVID-19 protocols after Brooklyn Nets star James Harden on Tuesday.

Finals MVP Antetokounmpo has been averaging 27.0 points, 11.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for the defending champions this season.

Antetokounmpo is shooting 53.0 per cent from the field – his lowest number since the 2017-18 season, and 28.0 per cent from three-point range.

The Bucks (18-11) are third in the Eastern Conference, behind the Nets (19-8) and Chicago Bulls (17-10).

Stephen Curry moved within two three-pointers of breaking Ray Allen's all-time NBA record as the Golden State Warriors edged the Indiana Pacers 102-100 on Monday.

Curry finished the game with 26 points including five triples to close in on Allen's record of 2,973 three-point attempts made. The two-time MVP will look to break the mark on Tuesday against the New York Knicks.

Domantas Sabonis scored 30 points with 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who led late before Curry, who shot at 33 percent from beyond the arc, hit his fifth three-point attempt to narrow the margin.

Curry had another attempt from beyond the arc rim out, with Kevin Looney's putback giving Golden State the lead with 13.4 seconds left.

Gary Payton II's defense on Caris LeVert forced a late turnover to seal the win for the Warriors who improve to 22-5, ahead of Curry's next attempt at breaking the record in New York.

 

Tatum downs depleted Bucks

Jayson Tatum hit seven three-pointers as he finished with 42 points in the Boston Celtics' 117-103 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. The reigning champions lost Khris Middleton to a left knee hyper-extension in the third quarter, while Giannis Antetokounmpo was kept relatively quiet with 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

The Philadelphia 76ers missed Joel Embiid who was out with rib soreness, going down 126-91 to the Memphis Grizzlies, while reigning MVP Nikola Jokic led the Denver Nuggets past the Washington Wizards 113-107 with 28 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists.

Trae Young scored 41 points with nine assists but it could not prevent the Atlanta Hawks from losing 132-126 to the resurgent Houston Rockets. Eric Gordon netted 32 points for Houston who came from 19 points down with a 38-21 fourth quarter.

 

CP3 struggles as Suns stumble

Chris Paul could not find his stride against his former franchise, struggling for nine points shooting at under 30 percent with eight assists in the Phoenix Suns' 111-95 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Suns, who are 21-5, were without Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker.

Khris Middleton suffered a hyperextended left knee in Monday's 117-103 loss to the Boston Celtics which the Milwaukee Bucks are praying is not a serious injury.

Middleton landed awkwardly upon contact with team-mate Rodney Hood attempting to rebound late in the third quarter, before limping off the court moments later after trying to play on.

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said they would wait until Tuesday to make a determination on the severity of the injury to the 2020-21 NBA champion.

"I think we're terming it a left knee hyper-extension," Budenholzer said at the post-game news conference.

"We'll know more tomorrow but I think there's some hope it's not serious, but you've got to wait and give it time."

Middleton had four points with eight rebounds and three assists on the night, succumbing to injury after 24 minutes on court.

The 30-year-old small forward is averaging 18.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game this season. Middleton averaged 20.4 points in the Bucks' title-winning season.

The defeat to the Celtics leaves the reigning champions with an 18-11 record and third spot in the Eastern Conference.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 41 points on Friday and had a triple-double on Sunday but managed only 20 points with eight rebounds and three assists.

"I think we've got to space around him a little bit better," Budenholzer said. "Move him a little bit more. It was a tough night for us, sometimes that happens."

Budenholzer also refused to blame the Bucks' recent heavy schedule with three games in four days.

"Credit to Boston, they played well tonight," he said. "I think we weren’t at our best. Whatever the reasons are, we've got to be better."

Kevin Durant edged Stephen Curry's season-best mark with 51 points as the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Detroit Pistons 116-104 in the NBA on Sunday.

Durant was dominant after the Nets opted to rest fellow superstar James Harden for the first time this season, with the former MVP shooting 16 of 31 from the field, including five three-pointers.

The two-time champion and Finals MVP also had seven rebounds, nine assists, two block and one steal in a remarkable all-round display for the Eastern Conference-leading Nets.

The haul was Durant's eighth 50-point game of his NBA career, while it bettered Stephen Curry's season-best 50 points against the Atlanta Hawks on November 8.

Struggling Detroit challenged the Nets, leading by five points at the final change before a 30-13 fourth quarter for the Nets.

Number one draft pick Cade Cunningham had 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals for the Pistons.

 

Triple-doubles for Giannis and LeBron

Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded his first triple-double for the season with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in the Milwaukee Bucks' 112-97 victory over the New York Knicks. Khris Middleton added 24 points with four triples, while Bobby Portis grabbed a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds for the defending champions.

LeBron James also had a triple-double, the 101st of his illustrious NBA career. James scored 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Los Angeles Lakers as they trumped the Orlando Magic 106-94. The Lakers enjoyed a 23-0 third-quarter run on their way to victory.

The Dallas Mavericks won for the first time this season without star Luka Doncic, easing past the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-84, while Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points with 10 rebounds as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Portland Trail Blazers 116-111.

 

Randle silenced as Knicks beaten

Julius Randle's struggles this season continued against the Bucks, managing only eight points with seven turnovers. Randle shot two of nine from the field.

Giannis Antetokounmpo remains driven to keep improving for the Milwaukee Bucks after chalking up a new franchise record in the 123-114 win over the Houston Rockets.

Antetokounmpo had 41 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks as he became Milwaukee's all-time leader in the latter category, surpassing Alton Lister (804).

The defending NBA champions halted Houston's seven-game winning streak behind a monster performance from their star man.

Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis weighed in with 21 points apiece for the Bucks, who improved to 17-10 this season.

Asked afterwards about his new landmark achievement, Antetokounmpo said in a news conference: "It's big-time. Great compliment to my career. But I've gotta keep getting better, gotta keep defending better.

"I feel like sometimes I'm a step behind. I've gotta be there early for my team-mates, gotta make sure they know that I'm behind them and I'm ready to help them in any scenario.

"But it's great. It's great to have something like that in my career, but I gotta keep on moving forward, keep on getting better, keep on helping my team-mates win games."

His showing against Houston represented a major gear shift following a lacklustre display in the midweek defeat to the Miami Heat, in which Antetokounmpo managed just 15 points and six rebounds. Only once this season has he ended a game with fewer points.

He is averaging 27.6 points and 11.8 rebounds this season, with his shooting accuracy from the field dipping slightly from 56.9 per cent last term to 53.4 per cent, his lowest since the 2017-18 campaign.

Antetokounmpo seems to have a firm grip on how he can take steps forward and enacted his plan against Houston.

"I just tried to be aggressive, tried to get downhill," he said. "In the last game I wasn't as aggressive as I wanted. I wanted to be aggressive, the team wanted me to be aggressive and it kind of worked out in our favour tonight."

The 27-year-old Greek star was the Finals MVP last season and will have aspirations to take the Bucks deep into the play-offs again this time.

He spoke after this latest tussle of his admiration for the Rockets, who rebounded from a 15-game losing streak to put seven consecutive wins together before this setback.

"They're playing great. We knew coming in today they're going to play extremely hard against us and try to prove themselves," said Antetokounmpo.

"They don't have a big star, a superstar that takes all the possessions. They have to play together, they have to shoot the ball real well, they have to put themselves in position to be successful. They defend really well and if they keep playing like this they're going to keep getting better each year."

The Bucks have had five 40/15/5 games since the three-point era (1980) – Antetokounmpo has all five.

Giannis Antetokounmpo flexed his muscles with 41 points and 17 rebounds as defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks took down the Houston Rockets 123-114 in the NBA.

The Bucks snapped Houston's seven-game winning streak behind a monster performance from Finals MVP Antetokounmpo on Friday.

Antetokounmpo also had five assists, three steals and two blocks as he became Milwaukee's all-time blocks leader, surpassing Alton Lister (804).

The Bucks have had five 40/15/5 games since the three-point era (1980) – Antetokounmpo has all five.

Khris Middleton and Bobby Portis had 21 points apiece for the Bucks, who improved to 17-10 this season.

Christian Wood (21 points and 13 rebounds) had a double-double, but it was not enough for the Rockets (8-17), while Garrison Matthews (23 points) and Armoni Brooks (21 points) also impressed.

Houston had been 6-0 with Matthews in the starting line-up but his bid to join Chris Paul (first 15) and Jason Terry (first nine) as the only players in the last 30 years to have the Rockets win their first seven starts with the team fell short.

 

Durant grounds Hawks, LeBron leads Lakers

Kevin Durant led the way again for the Brooklyn Nets, who outlasted the Atlanta Hawks 113-105. Durant scored 31 points. James Harden added 20 points and 11 assists for the Eastern Conference-leading Nets. Trae Young had 31 points and 10 assists for the Hawks. He joined Russell Westbrook and Michael Jordan as the only players with at least 25 points and 10 assists in five consecutive games since the NBA merger in 1977.

With Anthony Davis (knee soreness) absent, LeBron James inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to a 116-95 victory over the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder. James was 13-of-20 shooting for 33 points. In 15 games this season, James has scored 30 or more points in seven of them.

 

Burks has game to forget

The New York Knicks opted for Alec Burks over star recruit Kemba Walker in their rotation, but he endured a horror outing in the 90-87 defeat at the Toronto Raptors. Burks missed all seven of his shots from the floor, finishing with just a point in 37 minutes.

The Boston Celtics went down 111-90 to the high-flying Phoenix Suns as Marcus Smart went one-of-13 from the floor – missing all five of his three-point attempts – in a four-point performance.

Nikola Jokic showed why he is the reigning NBA MVP after leading the Denver Nuggets to a 120-114 overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Jokic posted back-to-back triple-doubles as the Nuggets outlasted the Pelicans in NBA action on Wednesday.

After putting up a triple-double on Monday, Jokic was at it again midweek with a season-high 39 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

Jokic scored 11 of his points in OT to help the Nuggets take down the Pelicans – the Serb star posting his ninth career 30-point triple-double, the most in NBA history by a center not named Wilt Chamberlain.

Overall, it is Jokic's 61st career triple-double, one behind Brooklyn Nets superstar James Harden, who ranks seventh all-time.

 

Red-hot Rockets win again

The Houston Rockets capitalised on Kevin Durant's absence in a 114-104 win over the shorthanded and Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets. Durant was rested and the Rockets extended their winning streak to seven games. According to Stats Perform, the Rockets are the first NBA/NBA/NHL team to have a losing streak of 15-plus games and then a winning streak of at least seven games later that same season (at any point) since the Louisville Colonels in 1895.

Joel Embiid was the source of inspiration again for the Philadelphia 76ers, who prevailed 110-106 against the Charlotte Hornets. Embiid had 32 points to lead the 76ers. It is the ninth time in Embiid's career he has tallied at least 75 points and 20 rebounds in a two-game span. The only other 76ers to do so at least nine times are Hall of Famers Chamberlain and Charles Barkley.

The NBA-leading Golden State Warriors were too good for Western Conference rivals the Portland Trail Blazers 104-94.

 

Giannis struggles as champs fall

Defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks lost 113-104 at the Miami Heat after superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with just 15 points on four-of-13 shooting in 33 minutes.

Joel Embiid produced a monster double-double to lift the Philadelphia 76ers past the Charlotte Hornets 127-124 in overtime.

Embiid carried the 76ers (13-11) to victory away to the Hornets on Monday, posting a season-high 43 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists.

Last season's MVP runner-up, Embiid – scorer of six of Philadelphia's eight points in OT – was 15-of-20 shooting as he recorded his 10th career 40-point, 15-rebound game for the 76ers – only Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain (30) has more in franchise history.

Tobias Harris added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers, who claimed back-to-back victories while extending their winning streak against the Hornets to 15 games, dating back to 2017.

Kelly Oubre Jr.'s 35 points, which included six three-pointers, was not enough for the Hornets (14-12).

 

Curry up to his old tricks

Stephen Curry nailed a stunning half-court buzzer-beater at the end of the first quarter in the Golden State Warriors' 126-95 rout of the lowly Orlando Magic. Curry finished with 31 points and eight assists, while Andrew Wiggins (28 points) nailed a career-high eight three-pointers.

Birthday boy Giannis Antetokounmpo had 27 and 12 rebounds to inspire defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks to a 112-104 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Milwaukee won for the 10th time in 11 games on Antetokounmpo's 27th birthday.

Despite a triple-double from reigning MVP Nikola Jokic (17 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high 15 assists), the Denver Nuggets were beaten 109-97 by the high-flying Chicago Bulls.

 

Portland's skid continues

The Portland Trail Blazers tasted defeat for the third consecutive game after going down 102-90 to the Los Angeles Clippers. The shorthanded Blazers – playing without All-Star Damian Lillard – have lost six of their last seven games and have the worst defence this season.

After snapping the Phoenix Suns' franchise-record winning streak, the high-flying Golden State Warriors crashed back down to earth in a shock 112-107 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs.

In the second of back-to-back games, having halted Phoenix's memorable 18-game run, the league-leading Warriors (19-4) were unable to rally past the Spurs on home court in the NBA on Saturday.

The Spurs (8-13) used an 8-1 run to close out the game for their fourth consecutive victory, fuelled by Dejounte Murray's 22 points and 12 rebounds.

Stephen Curry scored 27 points for the Warriors, who had won 11 successive home games – tied for their longest home winning streak since they claimed 54 straight from January 2015 to March 2016.

 

 

Bulls battle past Nets

The Chicago Bulls went on a rampage at Barclays Center, where they overturned a double-digit deficit to trump the Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn Nets 111-107. Zach LaVine (31 points) and DeMar DeRozan (29 points) inspired the Bulls in the Eastern Conference blockbuster. Kevin Durant led the Nets with 28 points, while James Harden had 14 points and 14 assists.

Jayson Tatum (also 10 rebounds) and Dennis Schroder scored 31 points apiece to lead the Boston Celtics to a 145-117 blowout of the Portland Trail Blazers, who were without Damian Lillard.

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic put up 32 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in just 27 minutes as the Denver Nuggets beat the slumping New York Knicks 113-99.

No Giannis Antetokounmpo? No worries for defending champions the Milwaukee Bucks, who defeated the Miami Heat 124-102. Bobby Portis sparked the Bucks with 19 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. He is the first Bucks player with a 15/15/2/2/2 game in under 30 minutes since 1984.

 

George unable to lift Clippers

Paul George finished with a double-double but it was a rough night for him and the Los Angeles Clippers following a 104-99 loss at the Sacramento Kings. George only made five of his shots from the floor, while turning the ball over five times on the road.

Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out the Milwaukee Bucks' NBA clash with the Miami Heat due to right calf soreness on Saturday.

Antetokounmpo was absent for the second consecutive game after missing Thursday's loss to the Toronto Raptors because of the same problem.

The Finals MVP was a late withdrawal for the defending champions' 97-83 defeat against the Raptors, with Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer initially hopeful it was only a "short-term" issue.

On Saturday, Budenholzer said: "We'll just take it day by day. See how it goes."

Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.6 points – only behind Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant entering Saturday's play, 11.8 rebounds and a career-high 6.0 assists per game this season.

Before facing Eastern Conference rivals the Heat, the Bucks boasted a 14-9 record to be fifth – three and a half games behind the Nets.

The Phoenix Suns celebrated a franchise-record 18th consecutive win after taking down the lowly Detroit Pistons 114-103 in the NBA on Thursday.

Phoenix – who reached last season's NBA Finals – eclipsed the 17-game record set during the 2006-07 campaign, despite the absence of All-Star Devin Booker.

Leading scorer Booker sat out for the first time this season after suffering a hamstring injury in Tuesday's win over the Golden State Warriors, however, the Suns were still too good for the Pistons.

The NBA-leading Suns – who improved to 19-3 – were fuelled by 19 points apiece from Cam Johnson and Cameron Payne, while Deandre Ayton had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Chris Paul added 12 points and 12 assists.

Phoenix also celebrated back-to-back wins over Detroit for the first time since 2014.

Jerami Grant put up a game-high 34 points for the Pistons, who have lost eight straight games for their worst skid since 2017-18.

 

Grizzlies in historic humbling

The Memphis Grizzlies broke the record for the largest victory in NBA history after humiliating the shorthanded Oklahoma City Thunder 152-79. Memphis surpassed the 1991 Cleveland Cavaliers (68 points) for the largest winning margin thanks to their 73-point demolition. The Grizzlies were without star Ja Morant. According to Stats Perform, 152 is the most points in NBA history by a team missing a player who was leading the team in total points and assists entering the game.

 

DeMar DeRozan (34 points), Zach LaVine (27 points) and Nikola Vucevic (27 points) combined to lead the Chicago Bulls past the New York Knicks 119-115. Julius Randle's double-double of 30 points and 12 rebounds was not enough for the Knicks.

 

Milwaukee's streak over as Giannis sits out

Giannis Antetokounmpo was held out by the Milwaukee Bucks due to a calf problem. In his absence, the defending champions lost 97-93 at the Toronto Raptors as their eight-game winning run was halted. Milwaukee shot just 37.6 per cent from the field.

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer remains hopeful the calf issue that kept Giannis Antetokounmpo out of Thursday's 97-93 loss to the Toronto Raptors is only a "short-term" issue.

Antetokounmpo was a surprise late withdrawal for the Bucks due to right calf soreness and the reigning NBA champions tasted defeat in his absence.

Milwaukee's eight-game winning streak was snapped by the Raptors, who were fuelled by Fred VanVleet's 29 points.

Following the warm-ups, the Bucks opted to bench NBA Finals MVP Antetokounmpo, with Pat Connaughton starting in his place.

"Hopefully it's something very short term," Budenholzer told reporters after the defeat. "A day or two and hopefully he'll be ready to go.

"We'll just see how the next 24-48 hours go."

Budenholzer added: "I think it's important but we're hopeful it's short term."

Antetokounmpo had scored 40 points with 12 rebounds and nine assists in Wednesday's 127-125 win over the Charlotte Hornets.

Greek superstar Antetokounmpo is averaging 27.6 points – only behind Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry entering Thursday's play, 11.8 rebounds and a career-high 6.0 assists per game this season.

Championship-winning Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez has undergone surgery to address the back injury that has kept him out since the opening game of this season.

The Bucks revealed that the 33-year-old underwent back surgery on Thursday in Los Angeles.

Milwaukee declined to offer a timetable on his potential return to play, but said he will " updates on his rehabilitation progress will be provided as appropriate".

The Bucks' title defence has been impacted by the absence of several players early this season, including Lopez along with Jrue Holiday (ankle) and Khris Middleton (COVID-19) who have missed stretches of games. Milwaukee are currently 14-8.

"He's basically been making very, very slow but little progress from the beginning," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters before Thursday's game at Toronto. "We hoped rest and rehab and things like that would solve it and it hasn't."

"We're not going to put a timeline on it, but we're also not going to say he's not going to play this season. We feel good about the surgery today, and he'll begin his rehab and do everything he can to put himself in a position to play for us."

Lopez averaged 12.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for the Bucks in their title-winning 2020-21 season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo took a "sneaky" route to the winning shot as the Milwaukee Bucks pinched a 127-125 win over the Charlotte Hornets – then expressed frustration at being denied a post-game jersey swap.

The Bucks superstar powered in for a late driving layup with 2.0 seconds remaining as the in-form Bucks (14-8) landed their eighth consecutive victory.

It capped a game that saw him rack up 40 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, and the finesse Antetokounmpo showed from close range at the death reflected his mastery of the craft.

He said: "I knew in the position that I was, there were two different routes: throw a floater up or try to sneak it in. And when you try to sneak it in, you've got to put spin.

"If you just go normal, most likely you're going to get blocked. So you've got to be sneaky with it."

Antetokounmpo scored 40 or more points in a game for the third time this season, and he said of his late heroics: "You've got to take them. You've got to be in the situation and learn from them.

"If you play a long time you're going to be in this situation at least 100, 200, 300 times. Sometimes you're going to miss, sometimes you're going to make some shots.

"You've got to be able to have the guts and the edge to be able to be in the situation, because you only learn from them."

He made a beeline for LaMelo Ball's jersey at the end of the game. Antetokounmpo had admired the Hornets star throughout the game as the 20-year-old, in his second year with the Hornets, scored an NBA career-high 36 points.

But asked after the game about that moment, Antetokounmpo revealed the jersey was not in his possession for long.

"They took the jersey from me," Antetokounmpo said. "I think the NBA wanted the jersey back, somebody wanted the jersey back.

"It's okay, I'll get another one next time. I was excited for it too, he had a great game."

The game saw DeMarcus Cousins make his Bucks debut, having arrived as a free agent. The former All-Star played just under 15 minutes and scored seven points, in his season debut, having spent last year with the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers.

"I was very excited for DeMarcus Cousins," Antetokounmpo said. "Obviously he was trying to feel more comfortable out there. He hasn't played in a long time.

"I think it was kind of weird for him that people didn't double-team him. He was just basically playing one on one down there. He played good, and we're going to need him a lot moving forward.

"He's so big out there in the paint, and he's a threat out there when he's with us."

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