Bucks extend win streak despite missing Giannis Antetokounmpo

MILWAUKEE — Despite being without star Giannis Antetokounmpo due to left Achilles tendinitis, the Milwaukee Bucks rallied for a 113-106 victory over the LA Clippers on Monday night that extended their winning streak to six games.

Damian Lillard scored 41 points on 12-of-22 shooting, while Bobby Portis added 28 points and 16 rebounds off the bench as the Bucks overcame a 15-point second-half deficit.

“It just shows who we’re becoming,” Lillard said. “Nobody talked about who wasn’t playing before the game … that just shows what’s expected, the standard that we’re starting to have, and who we’re becoming as a team.”

Down 15 points with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Bucks rallied to outscore the Clippers by 22 the rest of the way. It was Milwaukee’s fourth 15-point comeback win this season and second since Doc Rivers took over as coach.

“We just trusted each other,” Lillard said. “Defensively, we’ve trusted our communication. We’ve depended on the next guy to do his job, and the same offensively. … Because our team is seeing the results that we’re getting from playing that way, even when it’s not going our way at points in the game, we trust it. It’s just coming back in our favor.”

This was only the third time the Bucks have played without Antetokounmpo this season, and first since Jan. 17. Milwaukee was also without forward Khris Middleton, who has been sidelined since he sprained an ankle on Feb. 6 in Phoenix.

Rivers was not sure whether either would be ready to play when the Bucks begin a three-city, four-game West Coast road trip Wednesday at Golden State.

During his pregame availability, Rivers said Antetokounmpo, who is averaging 30.8 points on career-best 61.9% shooting, has been dealing with the Achilles injury for the past few games.

Antetokounmpo took the court for his usual pregame shooting routine hours before Monday’s game but stopped a few times to stretch his legs out. Eventually, he cut his routine short and headed back to the locker room.

“It’s been on and off the last two or three games,” Rivers said. “This morning he actually looked good … we’ll just figure it out from there.”

Middleton has been out for nearly a month, but Rivers has maintained that his ankle is improving. The Bucks hope he can return at some point during their upcoming road trip.

“He’s just not ready,” Rivers said pregame. “Close … but again, if it’s not 100% for us, we’re just not willing to push it right now. There’s no need to.”

First appeared on www.espn.com

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