Lillard bags 41 as Bucks battle back to sink Clippers

Agence France-Presse
Lillard bags 41 as Bucks battle back to sink Clippers
Damian Lillard of Milwaukee
Stacy Revere / Getty Images / AFP

LOS ANGELES – Damian Lillard produced a dazzling 41-point display as the Milwaukee Bucks shrugged off the injury absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers, 113-106, on Monday (Tuesday Manila time).

With Antetokounmpo ruled out just before tip-off with a sore Achilles, and Khris Middleton also out injured, Lillard led from the front to help in-form Milwaukee claim a sixth-straight victory.

The Clippers looked to have the measure of their opponents, opening up a 15-point lead at one stage in the third quarter.

But Lillard and Bobby Portis caught fire in the fourth as the Bucks outscored the Clippers 40-25 to pull clear and seal the win before a fired-up Milwaukee crowd.

Lillard finished with four rebounds and four assists along with his 41 points, while Portis stepped up with 28 points and 16 rebounds.

Patrick Beverley was the only other Milwaukee player in double figures, adding 12 points.

The win saw Milwaukee improve to 41-21, leaving them in second place in the Eastern Conference standings behind leaders Boston (48-12).

"We're just playing together on both sides of the ball," Lillard said afterwards.

Bucks coach Doc Rivers accused some members of his team as being in holiday-mode prior to last month's All-Star game mid-season break.

But Lillard revealed the Bucks were now reaping the benefits from a clear-the-air meeting that has sparked the team's unbeaten streak.

"Coming out of the break we had a big talk as a team, Doc addressed a lot of things, challenged us to do some things differently — and I think we embraced it as a team," Lillard said.

"Leading into the break there were a lot of things that we just weren't fully committed to doing together; but now I think everybody is seeing the success of us being all-in on both sides."

The only down note for the Bucks on Monday came with Antetokounmpo's injury.

The Greek star appeared for a pre-game warm-up but hobbled away in visible discomfort with a left Achilles problem as he went through shooting drills.

The Clippers, meanwhile, saw Paul George and James Harden finish with 29 points apiece, with Kawhi Leonard adding 16.

In other games on Monday, the Minnesota Timberwolves kept up the pressure on the Oklahoma City Thunder at the top of the Western Conference with a 119-114 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Minneapolis.

A hard-fought contest saw the Timberwolves bounce back after Sunday's one-point loss to the Clippers.

French international Rudy Gobert led Minnesota's scoring with 25 points, hauling in 16 rebounds with three blocks.

Anthony Edwards finished with 13 off the bench on a night when six Minnesota players posted double-digit points tallies.

Anfernee Simons was the pick of the Portland shooters with 34 points, including 5-of-13 from 3-point range. Duop Reath made 5-of-6 from outside the arc en route to 26 points.

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