Antetokounmpo scores 50 for Bucks; Pelicans lose 8th in row

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo says he wants to keep producing outstanding performances that he can show his kids one day when they're old enough to appreciate them.

The two-time MVP added one more to the list Sunday night.

Antetokounmpo scored 50 points while playing only 30 minutes as the Milwaukee Bucks rolled to a 135-110 victory over the slumping New Orleans Pelicans. Antetokounmpo shot 20 of 26 from the floor – including 3 of 4 from 3-point range – and 7 of 12 from the foul line.

“They might say, ‘Daddy, you’re boring. You're lame. We don't want to see your highlights. We've heard so much about you. We want to watch Scooby-Doo' or whatever the case might be,” Antetokounmpo said. “I'm just going to keep creating the way people in the past created, the way I can go back and watch Magic Johnson highlights, Kevin Garnett highlights, Kobe Bryant highlights, Allen Iverson highlights, KD's, LeBron's. They've created so much art throughout the years, and we can go back and see it and admire what they did. Tim Duncan."

Antetokounmpo's 50 points were five off the career high he set Jan. 4 in a 123-113 victory over the Washington Wizards.

Jrue Holiday scored 17 and Brook Lopez added 15 for the Bucks, who shot 55.2%.

New Orleans never led and lost its eighth straight. The Pelicans were playing for the second consecutive night - they lost 113-103 at home to the Wizards on Saturday - and were missing their top three scorers.

Zion Williamson hasn't played since Jan. 2 due to a strained right hamstring. Brandon Ingram (toe injury on left foot) and CJ McCollum (sprained right thumb) also were out Sunday.

Jose Alvarado stepped up to lead the Pelicans with 18 points, while Trey Murphy III and Jonas Valanciunas had 16 each.

“I thought our effort was there,” Pelicans coach Willie Green. “I thought we fought. It just wasn't enough tonight.”

Even at full strength, the Pelicans would have struggled to slow down Antetokounmpo on a night when he seemingly couldn't miss.

This marked the 10th time this season that Antetokounmpo has scored at least 40 points, matching the career high he set last year for 40-point games in a single season.

“He made it look easy all night long,” Bucks forward Khris Middleton said. “He’s playing efficient. He’s playing dominant. He’s playing unstoppable. He’s playing like the MVP again. We need that from him every night, and he knows that.”

Antetokounmpo already had 16 points midway through the first quarter. He went 8 of 9 for 18 points in that opening period, nearly matching New Orleans’ scoring total while helping the Bucks build a 37-19 advantage.

He finished the night as well as he started it.

Antetokounmpo scored 12 straight Bucks points during a stretch that began with less than four minutes left in the game. Antetokounmpo capped that spurt by making consecutive 3-pointers, the last of which put him at the 50-point mark with 1:38 remaining.

“It's one of those moments you can never take for granted because you never know if you're going to have that moment again,” Antetokounmpo said.

TIP-INS

Pelicans: Kira Lewis Jr. played for the first time since Jan. 18 and scored 15 points. .... Larry Nance Jr. had a season-high 12 rebounds ... The Pelicans were outrebounded 57-38. They had a minus-11 rebound margin Saturday against the Wizards.

Bucks: The Bucks reached the 130-point mark for the fifth time in their last seven games. ... Middleton came off the bench for a fourth straight game and had nine points in 17 1/2 minutes as the Bucks continue to monitor the three-time All-Star's workload in his return from right knee soreness. Middleton has played just 11 games this year, missing time first to recover from offseason wrist surgery and later to deal with his knee issue.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: At Denver on Tuesday in the second game of a three-game road swing. The Pelicans have split two home matchups with the Nuggets this season.

Bucks: Host Charlotte on Tuesday. The Bucks won at Charlotte, and a month later lost to them at home.

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