Giannis Antetokounmpo got back to business on Tuesday, scoring 31 points and grabbing 16 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks snapped a two-game losing skid by beating the short-handed Philadelphia 76ers 118-109.
“Always feels good to get a win,” Antetokounmpo said. “I was just trying to be competitive and trying to do whatever it takes to get a win. That’s what my team wants me to do, that’s what my team needs me to do.”
The victory comes one day after the Bucks visited the White House as guests of American President Joe Biden to honour their NBA championship. But so far this season, Milwaukee has hardly resembled the defending champs with six losses in their first 11 games.
Grayson Allen added 25 points and Bobby Portis contributed 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Bucks, who hope Tuesday’s win will help them reverse their fortunes in the new season.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo had an added spring in his step.
“I think he had that extra competitiveness tonight,” Budenholzer said. “He made some plays that are special. He can do some unique things, and he did it multiple times tonight. There was just that extra desire, that extra competitive gear that he needed, that we needed.”
The Bucks were missing Khris Middleton (COVID-19), Brook Lopez (back) and Donte DiVincenzo (ankle).
Tyrese Maxey led the depleted Sixers with 31 points while Georges Niang added 21 and Shake Milton 20.
Andre Drummond compiled his second double-double in as many nights with 17 points and 20 rebounds. The 28-year-old Drummond was brought in in the offseason after the Sixers parted ways with ageing veteran Dwight Howard.
The Sixers have dropped two in a row.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers has had to get creative with the lineup because of all the missing players. In their last game on Monday night, Philadelphia lost 103-96 to the New York Knicks, giving them no time to rest before facing the reigning champs.
The Sixers played without Joel Embiid, who tested positive for Covid-19 and will likely be out for 10 days. Also absent for the Sixers were Tobias Harris, Isaiah Joe and Matisse Thybulle for health and safety protocols. Ben Simmons (personal reasons) has yet to play this season.