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Bucks crush slumping Magic, 124-87

Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, right, tries to get by Orlando Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams (7) on his way to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 11, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Khris Middleton scored 21 points, Bobby Portis added 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and 10 rebounds off the bench and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Orlando Magic 124-87 on Sunday night to end a three-game losing streak.

Milwaukee was again without star Giannis Antetokounmpo, but it mattered little as Middleton shot 8 of 13 from the field and added eight rebounds and five assists to help the Bucks lead wire to wire. Middleton also hit two 3-pointers to give him 1,000 for his NBA career.

“He’s the ultimate professional, so consistent, a great scorer and he does it in a lot of different ways,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said of Middleton. “I think, at the same time, he’s a great leader. He’s really taken on a more impactful leadership role. The scoring and the 3s, everybody sees, but I like how he’s taken on leadership.”

Milwaukee shot 48.9% and made 19 3-pointers to beat the Magic for the sixth straight time — five of those wins coming in Orlando. The Magic shot 37.2% and hit only 8 of 36 3s.

Jrue Holiday added 12 points, five rebounds and seven assists for Milwaukee, which never saw its lead dip below 13 points in the second half. Milwaukee pulled its starters early in the fourth period and extended its lead to as much as 37 late.

Brynn Forbes added 13 points off Milwaukee’s bench. Pat Connaughton made all four of his shots and added 11 points.

“The focus of the group was good and both ends of the court some good things were happening,” Budenholzer said. “So, a lot of positives.”

Mo Bamba scored a career-best 21 points for Orlando, which lost its fifth straight game and 18th in 22 games. Bamba, who has gotten significantly more playing time since the team waived Khem Birch, shot 8 of 11 overall and 5 of 6 from 3-point range. He topped his previous high of 19 points set two games ago.

The Magic are 2-7 since trading Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and others at the NBA’s trade deadline on March 25.

“I just told the guys that we’re going to have some nights like this because it’s where we’re at,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “Listen, it was a bad performance, I’m in charge of the team and we’ve got to do better.”

GIANNIS’ GAINS

Antetokounmpo missed his fifth straight game with a sore left knee, but Budenholzer said the reigning two-time MVP is trending upward.

The forward, who has 32 double-doubles and seven triple-doubles, worked out with the team Sunday morning in Orlando. Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo showed no signs of trouble with the knee and added, “I think he’s in a good place and is making progress.”

Milwaukee is in the midst of playing nine out of 10 games on the road over an 18-day span from March 29 through April 15.

… In Denver, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown fueled a 31-3 run that helped the Boston Celtics put the skids on the NBA’s hottest team with a 105-87 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

The Nuggets looked well on their way to their ninth straight victory when they took a 79-65 lead in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Facundo Campazzo.

Boston outscored the Nuggets 40-8 the rest of the way. The Celtics had been held to 16 first-quarter points and trailed by 14 early on.

PELICANS 116, CAVALIERS 109

CLEVELAND (AP) — Zion Williamson scored 38 points and Brandon Ingram had 27 points and eight assists in rallying New Orleans past Cleveland.

Williamson fell one shy of his career best of 39 set March 26 against Denver. He made 16 of 22 field goal attempts and had nine rebounds as New Orleans pulled within one game of the final play-in tournament spot in the West.

SPURS 119, MAVERICKS 117

DALLAS (AP) — DeMar DeRozan hit the tiebreaking jumper with 0.5 seconds left, giving him 27 of his 33 points in the second half and lifting San Antonio past Dallas.

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