Giannis Antetokounmpo produced a memorable display to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 111-104 victory over Lebron James’ Los Angeles Lakers in the battle of the NBA’s top two teams.
Antetokounmpo scored 34 points, claimed 11 rebounds and dropped a career-best five three-pointers in the eagerly anticipated contest which pitted top of the East versus first in the West.
James had a triple-double in defeat – 21 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists – while fellow All-Star Anthony Davis poured in 36 points for the Lakers.
But the visitors got just four points from their bench, while Bucks replacement George Hill alone scored 21 points.
Milwaukee led by six points after the first quarter and then went on a 20-7 scoring run to lead 65-46 at half-time, by which point the Lakers had conceded 10 turnovers.
The lead proved a large enough buffer as the Lakers rebounded in the second half, but they suffered a fifth defeat in their 29th game of the season while the Bucks improved to 25-4.
In Thursday night’s other high-profile clash, the Houston Rockets came away late to defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 122-117.
Scores were tied 113-113 with just three minutes left before the Rockets took control to upset the Clippers, who were second to the visitors’ fifth in the Western Conference.
Russell Westbrook dominated for the Rockets with 40 points and 10 rebounds, while James Harden had 28 points and 10 assists.
Paul George led the Clippers’ effort with 34 points, ahead of Kawhi Leonard with 25.
Elsewhere, Patty Mills scored 27 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead the San Antonio Spurs to an emphatic 118-105 win at home to the Brooklyn Nets, for who Spencer Dinwiddie scored 41 points.
And in the night’s other game, the Utah Jazz beat the Atlanta Hawks 111-106.