LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Giannis Antetokounmpo matched a career-high 44 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and had eight assists on Friday (Dec 14) as the visiting Milwaukee Bucks led wire-to-wire and beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-102 in the National Basketball Association.
Antetokounmpo was coming off his lowest scoring game of the season - 12 in a loss Wednesday to Indiana. On Friday, he went 14-for-19 from the field and made 16 of 21 free-throw attempts.
Cleveland, who had trailed 94-80 early in the fourth, cut the deficit to 102-97 with 4min 20sec to go. But the Bucks went on a 9-2 run to put the game out of reach.
Brook Lopez scored 19 on 7-for-15 from the field and Eric Bledsoe added 16 points for the Bucks.
For the second time in a week, Milwaukee and Cleveland played, and for the second time in a week the Bucks jumped out to a big lead and had to hold on for the win.
On Monday, the Bucks led by 18 at half-time and by as many as 26 in the second. Cleveland cut the deficit to 13 before faltering in a 108-92 loss.
Antetokounmpo did not play in Monday's game because of a sore neck. Milwaukee starters Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon sat out Friday's game.
Tony Snell, getting the start for Brogdon, connected early on two three-pointers - his only points of the game - as Milwaukee scored the game's first nine points.
Rodney Hood finally got the Cavs on the board with a pair of free throws with just under nine minutes to go in the quarter. Cleveland did not score their first field goal until a Hood tip-in at the 7:01 mark - but by then, Milwaukee already had built a double-digit lead.
The Bucks, who came into the game averaging 40 three-point shots per game, made 5 of 11 in the first quarter. Milwaukee's defence held Cleveland to just 27.7 per cent from the field as the Bucks took a 27-16 lead after one.
The Bucks extended the lead to 15 on a Lopez three-point jumper in the second period. Cleveland would slice the lead to seven at 44-37 on a Jordan Clarkson 3, but that's the closest the Cavaliers would get late in the fourth.
Clarkson led the Cavaliers with 23 points off the bench. Hood added 19 for Cleveland.