MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 18 rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Charlotte Hornets 124-115 on Tuesday night to win their fifth straight and avenge one of their most embarrassing losses of the season.
The Bucks withstood a triple-double from Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball, who had 27 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.
Charlotte (16-36) entered the night with the fourth-worst record in the NBA, but the Hornets won 138-109 at Milwaukee on Jan. 6 to hand the Bucks their second-most lopsided loss of the season. The Hornets had 51 points in the opening period that night — matching the NBA record for a first quarter — and limited Antetokounmpo to nine points.
Even after scoring 50 points in a 135-110 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, Antetokounmpo spent part of his postgame press conference talking about how the Bucks needed to play better in the rematch with the Hornets.
The Hornets still made this one interesting.
Milwaukee took a 114-97 lead on an Antetokounmpo 3-pointer with 7:13 left but wouldn’t make another basket until Antetokounmpo provided a driving layup with 27.1 seconds remaining.
Charlotte cut the lead to 118-113 when Mason Plumlee hit a layup and drew a foul with 1:06 left. But Plumlee missed the ensuing free throw, and the Bucks put it away from there.
Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton had 18 points in 20 minutes, his longest outing since coming back from a sore right knee that caused him to miss 18 games. The three-time All-Star has come off the bench in each of his four games since returning. Jrue Holday had 15 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.
Terry Rozier scored 20 points, Gordon Hayward 16, Jalen McDaniels 15 and P.J. Washington and Mason Plumlee 14 each for Charlotte. Plumlee also had 14 rebounds.
The first three quarters of the game featured 11 ties and 17 lead changes, with the margin never climbing above seven points.
Middleton helped Milwaukee pull ahead for good late in the third quarter. He scored 11 points during a 14-3 run late in the third quarter that helped the Bucks take a 97-90 lead into the final period.
After Ball’s jumper opened the fourth-quarter scoring to cut Milwaukee’s lead to five, the Bucks went on a 12-2 run to take command. Antetokounmpo scored seven points and Jevon Carter had five during that spurt.
Hornets: Ball’s triple-double was his second of the season and eighth of his career. His other triple-double this seasson came Dec. 22, when he had 25 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in a 126=105 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. … This game snapped the Hornets’ two-game win streak. The Hornets haven’t won three straight all sesaon. … P.J. Washington inadvertently gave the Bucks a basket in the first quarter by tipping the ball into the net in while trying to get a defensive rebound on a missed shot by Jrue Holiday.
Bucks: Pat Connaughton shot just 1 of 8 from 3-point range. He had gone 25 of 49 from beyond the arc over his last eight games. … After getting a steal in the opening seconds of the second half, Holiday threw an off-the-backboard pass to Antetokounmpo, who was unable to convert the dunk attempt.
Hornets: At Chicago on Thursday night.
Bucks: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.