NBA: Milwaukee Bucks beat Phoenix Suns to become first team to clinch play-off place

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 36 points as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns to become the first team to clinch their place in the NBA play-offs.

The Bucks’ 116-104 victory was their 50th win of the regular season.

Antetokounmpo – the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player – added 11 rebounds and eight assists as the Bucks extended their lead over the Boston Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference.

“Making the play-offs in this league is hard,” said coach Mike Budenholzer.

“You should never take anything for granted. We have a special team. Our focus, effort and desire is to just keep getting better.”

Antetokounmpo was supported by 21 points from Brook Lopez, while three other Milwaukee players finished with double figures as the Bucks fought back in the final quarter to take their record to 50-19.

Western Conference leaders the Denver Nuggets slumped to a fourth straight defeat as Fred VanVleet kept the Toronto Raptors’ play-off hopes alive with 36 points in their 125-110 victory.

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back from Saturday’s defeat by the New York Knicks with a comprehensive 123-108 win at the New Orleans Pelicans.

Anthony Davis led the scoring for the visitors with 35 points and 17 rebounds, keeping the Lakers firmly in contention for a play-off place with just under four weeks of the regular season remaining.


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