Lopez Scores 28, Bucks Beat Bulls 127-106 to Clinch Central | Sports activities Information

By ANDREW SELIGMAN, AP Sports activities Author

CHICAGO (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo did not dominate the best way he often does.

That did not cease the Bucks from clinching yet one more division championship and making it look straightforward within the course of.

Brook Lopez scored a season-high 28 factors and Milwaukee overcame a somewhat quiet efficiency from Antetokounmpo to safe its fourth straight Central Division title with a 127-106 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night time.

The defending NBA champion Bucks haven’t been on a run like this since Don Nelson’s groups received seven consecutive division titles within the Eighties. They took management early and got here away with a simple win although DeMar DeRozan scored 40 for Chicago.

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“You must most likely take a fast minute simply to understand (it),” coach Mike Budenholzer stated. “Successful something on this league is difficult. We discuss it on a regular basis in movie classes and practices, how laborious it’s to win a sport. To win a division means one thing.”

Antetokounmpo, attempting to overhaul LeBron James and Joel Embiid in a decent race for his first scoring title, completed with 18 factors, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. However the two-time MVP began gradual and spent many of the fourth quarter on the bench after choosing up his fifth foul.

Lopez had his finest efficiency after lacking many of the season due to a again harm. Khris Middleton scored 19 factors.

“For me, it is simply persevering with to search out that rhythm and get extra in sync with everybody,” stated Lopez, who missed 67 video games due to the harm. “Going on the market taking part in laborious, attempting to do what you possibly can and sort of pushing your self to the restrict — make your self work. So come playoff time you have got that confidence to go on the market and do no matter it is advisable do.”

Grayson Allen and Bobby Portis added 13 factors apiece because the Bucks accomplished a four-game season sweep of the Bulls.

Chicago clinched its first playoff look since 2017 with Cleveland shedding to Orlando. The Bulls are sixth within the Japanese Convention, a sport behind Toronto with three to play.

“For us to make the soar that we made, to be able to have the ability to compete within the playoffs, is unquestionably nice,” DeRozan stated. “It provides us a possibility to additional our season and play for one thing larger.”

DeRozan did all he may to hold Chicago, with two-time All-Star Zach LaVine sidelined due to ongoing soreness in his left knee.

Patrick Williams added 18 factors. Nikola Vucevic struggled, going 3 of 19 and scoring seven factors. He did draw loud cheers when he knocked Allen to the ground early within the fourth quarter, delighting followers indignant about Allen’s laborious foul earlier this season on Chicago’s Alex Caruso that resulted in a damaged wrist.

However the Bulls as soon as once more misplaced to an elite opponent. They’re a mixed 2-20 towards the highest 4 groups within the East and West.

Vucevic hit a nook 3-pointer for Chicago simply earlier than the halftime buzzer and DeRozan made a jumper within the opening seconds of the third to chop it to 58-48.

Milwaukee regrouped and pushed the result in 21, solely to have the Bulls get inside 10 once more late within the third. Two free throws by Antetokounmpo within the closing minute of the quarter and a 3 from the highest by Jrue Vacation made it 96-80 earlier than DeRozan hit jumper to chop the margin to 14 heading to the fourth.

Bucks: Although Budenholzer took difficulty with Vucevic’s takedown, saying it “crossed a line,” Allen shrugged it off. “I feel he was attempting to make a play on the ball,” he stated. Vucevic, who bought a technical, insisted he was merely swiping on the ball and wasn’t attempting to ship a tough foul on Allen.

Bulls: PG Lonzo Ball skilled one other setback in his restoration from surgical procedure for a torn meniscus in his left knee, elevating extra doubt about whether or not he’ll play once more this season. Ball felt some discomfort after he tried to ramp up actions once more following a 10-day pause, coach Billy Donovan stated. Donovan stated the following step will most likely be a “assembly of the minds” within the subsequent day or two. And the potential of Ball lacking the rest of the season is “on the desk.” Ball has not performed since Jan. 14. … Donovan stated he did not essentially get the sense that LaVine might want to miss a piece of video games, although his standing for Wednesday’s matchup with Boston was in query.

Bucks: Host the Boston Celtics on Thursday.

Bulls: Host the Celtics on Wednesday.

Extra AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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