By STEVE MEGARGEE, AP Sports Reporter
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points and 17 rebounds in his return to action and the Milwaukee Bucks extended their recent mastery of the Chicago Bulls with a 126-98 blowout Tuesday night.
Antetokounmpo missed the Bucks’ 138-119 loss to Minnesota on Saturday with right knee pain. Milwaukee played without All-Star forward Khris Middleton, who had a sore left wrist.
“He took a fall in the Minnesota game, and it was pretty sore and stiff, so we had him checked out,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game. “We feel like it’s short term, but we’ll see how he feels the next day or two.”
Jrue Holiday had a game-high 27 points to go along with seven assists as the Bucks won for the 15th time in their last 16 meetings with the Bulls, including all three meetings this season. The Bulls’ only win during that streak came in their 2019-20 regular season finale, when the Bucks rested their starters because they were locked in the third seed in the Eastern playoffs. .
Brook Lopez had 10 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes for Milwaukee after making his first start since the season opener. The 7-footer had been off the bench for the Bucks’ last three games after missing 67 with a back injury that required surgery.
Nikola Vucevic had 22 points for the Bulls, who opened a five-game road trip one night after a 113-99 win over the Toronto Raptors. DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine added 21 points each.
Milwaukee took the lead with a 23-4 surge that started late in the first quarter and continued into the second period. The game was tied 20-all before the Bucks scored the final 13 points of the opening period.
Milwaukee extended the lead to 59-33 before the Bulls retaliated with 13 straight points. This included a 10-0 personal run from LaVine, who capped off the outburst by hitting a 3-pointer to open the second half.
Chicago cut the lead to 64-54 on a pair of LaVine free throws with 8:51 left in the third, but the Bucks regrouped and pulled away again. They eventually led to 35.
Milwaukee’s Serge Ibaka and Chicago’s Tristan Thompson each received technical fouls late in the fourth quarter after having a brief scuffle on an inbounds pass attempt.
Bulls: Patrick Williams remained on a minutes restriction in his second game after missing 65 with a torn ligament in his left wrist. He has played 18 minutes each of the last two games. “He’s going to need, I think, a series of games to get back up where we can increase his minutes,” coach Billy Donovan said before the game.
Bucks: George Hill was fined $15,000 after being ejected from Saturday’s loss for shoving Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley from behind. Beverley, who pushed Ibaka from behind earlier in the altercation, was fined $20,000. … Bulls fans made up a sizable minority of the crowd, so Grayson Allen received a mix of loud cheers and boos whenever he was introduced. It was the Bulls’ first game in Milwaukee since Jan. 21, when Allen was ejected for a flagrant foul on Alex Caruso that caused the Bulls fullback to miss 22 games with a broken right wrist. The teams faced off in Chicago on March 4.
Bulls: At New Orleans on Thursday. The Bulls beat the Pelicans 128-112 in Chicago on October 22.
Bucks: Host the Washington Wizards on Thursday. The Bucks have shared two previous meetings with the Wizards. The Bucks lost 101-94 at Washington on Nov. 7 and won 112-98 at Milwaukee on Feb. 1.
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