NBA: Giannis scores 41 as Bucks cap sweep of Pistons, Mitchell powers Jazz over Rockets to avoid exit

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (centre) is fouled by Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (right) in the second half at Little Caesars Arena on April 23, 2019.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (centre) is fouled by Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (right) in the second half at Little Caesars Arena on April 23, 2019.PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS/REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 41 points and the visiting Milwaukee Bucks earned their first NBA play-off series victory in 18 seasons by completing a four-game sweep of the Detroit Pistons with a 127-104 win on Monday night (April 22).

The All-Star forward added nine rebounds, three assists and four blocks for the top-seeded Bucks, who will play fourth-seeded Boston in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. The Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers in their first-round series.

Milwaukee had lost in the first round during its past eight play-off appearances.

Khris Middleton had 18 points and Eric Bledsoe contributed 16 points and five assists for the Bucks. Nikola Mirotic tossed in 12 points off the bench.

Sterling Brown added nine points, 13 rebounds and six assists for Milwaukee, which also swept the Pistons during the four-game regular-season series.

Milwaukee shot 41 free throws, hitting 31, compared to Detroit's 9-of-12 finish at the line.

In another game, Donovan Mitchell scored 19 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to propel the Utah Jazz to a 107-91 victory over the Houston Rockets in Salt Lake City.

Jae Crowder added 23 points as fifth-seeded Utah staved off elimination in Game 4 with their first win in the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.

Ricky Rubio had 18 points and 11 assists, Derrick Favors recorded 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Royce O'Neale added 11 points and 11 rebounds.

"It's not over," Mitchell said in a post-game television interview with TNT. "We have another one, and another one, and another one."

James Harden scored 30 points for the fourth-seeded Rockets, who will again try to wrap up the series in Wednesday's Game 5 in Houston.

At home, the eighth-seeded Pistons were swept in the opening round of the play-offs for the third time since 2009. They lost their 14th consecutive post-season game, an NBA record, and have not won a play-off game since the 2007-08 season.

Reggie Jackson led Detroit with 26 points and seven assists. Blake Griffin had 22 points, five rebounds and six assists before fouling out. Andre Drummond chipped in 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Jackson carried the Pistons' offence in the first half, pouring in 20 points as Detroit grabbed a 62-56 half-time advantage.

Griffin made a three-pointer early in the third to give the Pistons a 71-62 lead, but Griffin and Drummond soon picked up their fourth fouls.

Middleton hit three free throws when Bruce Brown committed his fifth foul, tying the score at 73-all.

Griffin hit a pair of threes in a 29-second span to put Detroit back in front 79-75 with 5:13 left in the quarter.

Pat Connaughton's steal and dunk with 4:21 remaining in the quarter allowed Milwaukee to regain the lead, 83-82. Antetokounmpo attempted six free throws in a 1:39 span and made five, stretching the Bucks' advantage to 91-84.

A Bledsoe lay-up in the final minute of the quarter made it 95-85 after three.

The Bucks also scored the first five points of the fourth quarter with Antetokounmpo resting, extending their advantage to 15 points.