NBA: Bucks crush Hornets to become first team to 50 wins, Celtics dominate Lakers behind Irving's 30 points

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots against Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges during their NBA game at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center in Milwaukee on March 9, 2019.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo shoots against Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges during their NBA game at Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center in Milwaukee on March 9, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS

(REUTERS) - Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points and 13 rebounds, Brook Lopez scored 25, and the hosts Milwaukee Bucks beat the Charlotte Hornets 131-114 in the National Basketball Association on Saturday (March 9) night.

The Bucks trailed by as many as 14 in the second quarter but exploded for 39 third-quarter points to take the lead before increasing their advantage to as many as 18 in the fourth quarter.

They became the first team in the league to reach the 50-win plateau and are now 27-5 at home. They have won two straight and nine of their past 11.

In another game, Kyrie Irving scored 30 points, Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris added 16 each, and the visiting Boston Celtics continued to emerge from a recent downturn by extending their winning streak to three with a 120-107 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gordon Hayward added 15 points as the Celtics avenged a defeat to the Lakers at home on Feb 7 when former Boston point guard Rajon Rondo hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer.

LeBron James scored 30 points for the Lakers, who were playing without a number of key contributors because of injuries.

Against Charlotte, Milwaukee's Antetokounmpo played just 30 minutes, scoring 20 of his points in the second half. Lopez earned 18 of his points in the third quarter when the Bucks rallied and seized control.

The Bucks also got 18 points each from Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic. Eric Bledsoe and Donte DiVincenzo added 11 each. The Bucks hit 17 3-pointers collectively.

The Hornets seemed to run out of gas after a 112-111 win over Washington on Friday night. They remain 10th in the Eastern Conference play-off race, now a game and a half behind No. 8 Miami and a half-game behind No. 9 Orlando.

Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 25 points. Frank Kaminsky scored 16, Miles Bridges 15, Nic Batum and Jeremy Lamb 14 apiece, and Cody Zeller 10.

The Hornets led 32-24 after one quarter. They pushed the lead up to 14 on three occasions in the second quarter, the latest at 48-34, before the Bucks closed the gap to 59-55 at halftime.

Lopez then went wild in the third quarter and the Bucks led 94-87 after three. Milwaukee then turned the game into a rout quickly in the fourth quarter, leading 124-106 at one point.

As for the Lakers, they lost their fifth consecutive game and fell for the seventh time in the last eight games. With a 30-36 record, they will almost certainly miss the play-offs.

Boston started to break open a close game late in the second quarter while putting together a 12-4 run to take a 57-47 lead at half-time.

They closed the first half by scoring the final seven points and extended the lead to as many as 16 in the third quarter when they outscored the Lakers 36-29 to take a 93-76 advantage.

Moritz Wagner scored 22 points and Jonathan Williams added 18 for the Lakers, both career highs. Los Angeles were playing their first game amid news that both forward Brandon Ingram and guard Lonzo Ball would miss the remainder of the season.

Ingram has a deep venous thrombosis in his right shoulder and Ball has a severely sprained left ankle.

Also out for the Lakers on Saturday was Kyle Kuzma, who also has a sprained right ankle. The injury situation meant that Wagner got his first career start in his 27th career game.