Playoff intensity showed itself from the opening tip at Philadelphia on Thursday as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 45 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the Milwaukee Bucks’ 128-122 comeback victory over the 76ers that clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Khris Middleton scored 22 points for the Bucks, who will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history.
They were top seed in the Western Conference three times in their first six years of existence, the last in the 1973-74 seasons.
Joel Embiid recorded his second career triple-double with 34 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in his return from a three-game absence caused by a left knee soreness.
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The mood between two of the top three teams in the East was set early. Less than three minutes into the game, an on-court incident between the Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe and the Sixers’ Joel Embiid ended with Bledsoe’s ejection because of two technical fouls.
DeMarcus Cousins scored eight of his game-high 21 points in the first seven minutes as Golden State blitzed host Los Angeles.
The win allowed the Warriors to reduce their magic number to two for clinching the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Quinn Cook came off the bench to score 18 points for Golden State, and Kevin Durant scored 15 points. Reserve Johnathan Williams scored 17 to pace the Lakers.
Final scores Warriors 108, Lakers 90.
Buddy Hield scored a game-high 23 points to help Sacramento hold off visiting Cleveland.
Bogdan Bogdanovic added 18 points, and De’Aaron Fox recorded 16 points and 10 assists for the Kings.
Marvin Bagley III registered 15 points and eight rebounds, and Nemanja Bjelica had 10 points.
Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting for the Cavaliers, who lost their seventh straight game and fell to 6-34 on the road.
Final scores Kings 117, Cavaliers 104.