NBA: Giannis Antetokounmpo drops career-high 44 in Milwaukee Bucks' rout

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (centre) tries to drive between Cleveland Cavaliers' Matthew Dellavedova (left) and Larry Nance Jr. (right) at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, on Dec 15, 2018.
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (centre) tries to drive between Cleveland Cavaliers' Matthew Dellavedova (left) and Larry Nance Jr. (right) at Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, on Dec 15, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS/USA TODAY SPORTS

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.