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Bucks overtake Timberwolves 112-107 behind 33 points from Antetokounmpo

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points and 13 rebounds to help the Milwaukee Bucks surge out of the All-Star break with a 112-107 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

Minnesota dropped into a tie with Oklahoma City for the Western Conference lead at 39-17. The Thunder routed Washington 147-106 earlier Friday.

Anthony Edwards made three 3-pointers in the final 1:58 to give the Wolves a late chance, but Damian Lillard iced it for the Bucks with a pullup 21-footer with 10.3 seconds left for the five-point lead.

Lillard had 21 points, 10 assists and a season-high nine rebounds to overshadow an 8-for-23 shooting night and help the Bucks (36-21) improve to just 4-10 under new coach Doc Rivers. Malik Beasley scored all 14 of his points in the third quarter.

Karl-Anthony Towns (22 points, 14 rebounds) and Rudy Gobert (12 points, 19 rebounds) helped the Wolves (39-17) control the basket with a 32-14 second-chance points advantage, but their sloppy and sluggish third quarter was too much to overcome.

With two All-Stars on each side and both coaching staffs having represented each conference at the league's midseason showcase last weekend, ESPN grabbed this game for a national broadcast in the late-night window. The crowd, including plenty of Bucks fans, matched the moment.

Towns spent most of the game aggressively attacking the basket, but when the Wolves needed it most he went outside and sank back-to-back 3-pointers to bring them to 98-92.

Beasley, the streaky corner shooter who spent two-plus seasons with the Wolves before going to Utah in the Gobert trade two summers ago and switching teams twice more, didn't take a single shot in the first half. He made four 3-pointers in the third, fueling a 23-4 run over a 4:41 stretch and striking a pose after the fourth one with a backside wiggle to accentuate the 87-70 lead.

These teams emerged from the All-Star break in decidedly different situations, with the Wolves in this unfamiliar position atop the West and the Bucks — though still solidly in third place in the East — trying to find their footing under Rivers after the surprising midseason switch. Three-time All-Star Khris Middleton missed his sixth straight game with a sprained left ankle, further hampering the effort.

Lillard, who was the All-Star Game MVP and 3-point shooting contest champ last weekend, has yet to find his groove next to Antetokounmpo on his new team. He entered the evening shooting 34.1% from 3-point range, the second-lowest rate in his 12 seasons in the NBA, and went just 2 for 8 in this game.

Brook Lopez, who finished with 16 points, made all four of his 3-pointers in the first quarter to give the Bucks an early spark. Antetokounmpo got his drive going in the second. Then Beasley took over the third.

The Wolves played their first of seven straight home games, an advantage muted a bit by the fact that six of them are smashed into back-to-back nights.

UP NEXT

Bucks: Host Philadelphia on Sunday. Rivers coached the 76ers the previous three seasons.

Timberwolves: Host Brooklyn on Saturday night.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

Dave Campbell, The Associated Press