With All-Star Weekend looming in Salt Lake City, UT, it was hard to know what to expect in the Association’s final night of post-break action. Some just hope to see their team enter the off-week intact, myself included.
Unfortunately, Giannis Antetokounmpo, an MVP candidate through the first two-thirds of the season, had a tough fall on a block attempt and sprained his wrist. However, head coach Mike Budenholzer detailed Milwaukee’s early optimism:
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer, on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s right wrist sprain:
“I think the initial reports were hopeful. The x-ray was clean. And he’s got a sprain. I think we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, see how he feels the next few days and continue to evaluate it.”
— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) February 17, 2023
Brook Lopez lights up Bulls in Bucks’ 112-100 win
When Giannis exited the game with 10:51 remaining in the second — though not before setting the franchise record for all-time assists — Milwaukee was working with a six-point lead. That only ballooned as Brook Lopez posted a game-high 33 points (13-18 FG, 3-6 3P) and Jevon Carter scored 22 points (9-13 FG, 4-5 3P), which matched Chicago’s leading scorer, Nikola Vucevic (8-20 FG, 2-6 3P).
The East’s second-seeded Milwaukee’s win streak is up to 12 games now; third seed Philadelphia 76ers — 2.5 games back of the Bucks — has the second-best win streak at just four. Chicago spirals their way into the the break, having lost their last six and sitting 2.0 games outside the play-in picture.
Wizards take advantage of late collapse by Wolves in 114-106 win
Maybe someone forgot to remind Minnesota that you still play four quarters on the final night before the break, because they dominated this one for about 34 minutes. The Wolves’ 18-point lead with two minutes left started to dissipate as Deni Avdija scored each of the next seven points going into the fourth. Brad Beal then scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, just two shy of Minnesota’s quarter as a team.
Beal finished with a season-high 35 points (14-28 FG, 4-8 3P) while Avdija reached 10 points (3-8 FG) for the first time in his last three games. Anthony Edwards posted a very respectable 34 points (11-26) with solid defense while Rudy Gobert had one of his better games in Minnesota with 17 points (8-15), 19 rebounds, and three blocks. Both teams go into the break in the thick of their respective play-in pictures.
Clippers maintain control in 116-107 win over Suns
Kevin Durant was introduced to Phoenix faithful just hours ahead of the contest, but the palpable buzz in the arena couldn’t carry into the night as the Suns’ big 3 struggled to get much going for themselves; Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton combined for just 42 points, though Booker and Paul combined for 20 assists.
With the win, the Clippers overtake the Suns for #4 in the West going into the stretch run after 26-point performances from each of Paul George (9-19 FG) and Terance Mann (10-12). Kawhi Leonard finished the first half scoreless (0-8), but came alive in the second to finish with 16 points, nine rebounds, and four assists.