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Bucks snap 5-game losing skid

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the second half of an Eastern conference semifinal game against the Miami Heat Friday, Sept. 4 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo wanted to see how his Milwaukee Bucks would respond to adversity after losing five straight games.

The Bucks passed that test convincingly. Now they just need to handle prosperity a little better.

Antetokounmpo had 29 points, a season-high 19 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Bucks past the Oklahoma City Thunder 98-85 on Friday night to end their longest losing streak in four years.

“Guys were ready,î” Antetokounmpo said. “Guys competed. Guys played hard. Even though we weren’t knocking down a lot of shots, we competed defensively and were able to rebound and share the ball. It’s good. We’re still building.î”

The Bucks, who posted the NBA’s best regular-season record each of the last two seasons, avoided their first six-game skid since March 12-22, 2015. They hadn’t lost five straight since Jan. 25 to Feb. 3 in 2017.

The Bucks responded by going on an 18-0 run midway through the game to lead by as many as 22 points in the third quarter. But after it appeared the Bucks were on their way to a blowout victory, Oklahoma City started to make things interesting.

They cut Milwaukee’s lead to 83-76 on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s free throw with 5:26 left. Khris Middleton answered by sinking a corner 3-pointer to start a 7-0 run, and the Bucks stayed ahead by double figures the rest of the way.

“That’s just the NBA, man,î” said Milwaukee’s D.J. Augustin, who had 11 points and five assists in his first start of the season. ì

Middleton scored 20 points for the Bucks and Lu Dort had 17 for the Thunder on a night when both teams struggled on offense.

The Thunder’s 85 points were the fewest by a Bucks opponent all season. Milwaukee’s 98 points represented its second-lowest point total of the season.

Oklahoma City didn’t make its first basket of the second half until Hamidou Diallo delivered a follow shot with 4:31 left in the third.

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