MILWAUKEE (AP) - What a difference a week makes for the Milwaukee Bucks.
They won their fourth straight game since coach Jason Kidd was fired by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 107-95 on Monday night. And now they’re getting forward Jabari Parker back in a few days.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 18 rebounds, and Matthew Dellavedova scored all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter for the Bucks, who moved to 27-22 and look like a contender again in the Eastern Conference.
“Anytime you go 4-0 in a week, it’s a good week,” said center John Henson, who had 13 points. “Just playing well. We beat the teams we’re supposed to beat.”
The 76ers didn’t have All-Star center Joel Embiid, who sat out to rest. Milwaukee has also beaten losing teams in Phoenix, Brooklyn and Chicago under new coach Joe Prunty, the assistant who took over on an interim basis after Kidd was fired last Monday.
Still, this is progress for a squad that at times has played down to the level of its opponents.
“We’re just playing harder, trusting one another,” Antetokounmpo said. “Just in general having fun when we’ve been out there.”
Dario Saric had 19 points to lead the cold-shooting Sixers, who were 2 of 26 from 3-point range a night after going 11 of 29 in a loss at Oklahoma City. Ben Simmons added 16 points.
“Maybe we left them in Oklahoma,” Saric said about the off night from the arc. He missed all eight of his 3-point attempts.
The Sixers started out having all the fun in the paint, scoring 22 of their first 26 points in the lane. But the Bucks, who focused on making life difficult for Philadelphia on the perimeter, started figuring out how to limit the Sixers down low, too.
Philadelphia was overpowered without Embiid in the middle, and Antetokounmpo picked up his 22nd double-double of the season.
“Without Joel, we knew that if we were going to win, we needed a successful 3-point night,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “We had to find points from somewhere.”
Milwaukee also announced during the game that Parker was cleared to return Friday against the New York Knicks, nearly a year after being sidelined with the second major left knee injury of his career. Parker tore his left ACL on Feb. 8, 2017, against Miami. At the time, he was averaging a career-high 20.1 points and 6.2 rebounds as one of the franchise cornerstones.
76ers: Embiid is set to play in back-to-back games for the first time when Philadelphia hosts Miami on Friday before visiting Indiana the next night. The 7-foot center has had an extensive injury history that includes foot and knee surgeries that have limited his ability to play since he was drafted third overall in 2014. Elected a starter for his first All-Star Game, Embiid scored 27 points in 35 minutes during Sunday’s loss at Oklahoma City. He is averaging 23.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.
Bucks: G Malcolm Brogdon returned to the starting lineup after a two-game absence with right calf soreness. He scored four points in 21 minutes. … G Eric Bledsoe did not return after playing the first three minutes. The Bucks said he was available, but had been dealing with a sore left ankle.
“The bottom line is we gave it a go, the effort was there in terms of trying to go out and play, and obviously he couldn’t go,” Prunty said.
The Bucks were 11 for 28 from 3-point territory, getting key long-range buckets off the bench from Tony Snell (11 points), Sterling Brown (10 points) and Dellavedova. His reverse layup with 4:15 left capped a 12-4 run to give Milwaukee a 15-point lead.
Dellavedova also had a personal five-point run beginning with a 3 from the corner with 6:51 left and ending with two free throws after getting fouled on the break following a steal.
“He does so many little things out there for you. It’s not only getting you into the offense, it’s knowing the offense and where guys can be successful or setting screens,” Prunty said.
“He’s definitely a freak. He’s long, athletic … he gets to the line a lot. He’s gifted.” - Simmons about the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo.
76ers: Visit the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.
Bucks: At the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday.
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