Middleton leads balanced effort as Bucks top Wolves
By Brian Hall
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 15 points and 12 rebounds in just 23 minutes, Ersan Ilyasova added 16 points off the bench and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 125-95 on Friday night.
Khris Middleton scored 16 points and hit four 3-pointers for Milwaukee, which is 5-0 for the second time in franchise history. The 1971-72 Bucks led by Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson started 7-0.
Five players scored in double figures for Milwaukee, which made a season-high 19 3-pointers.
Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 16 points for a listless Minnesota squad dealing with the distraction of star Jimmy Butler’s trade request. Butler started despite being questionable with an illness and had a season-low 4 points on 2-of-11 shooting.
The specter of the trade request has lingered around the Wolves, but Butler had turned boos to cheers in leading Minnesota to wins in the first two home games.
The boos were back on Friday as Milwaukee buried Minnesota from the 3-point line.
First-year coach Mike Budenholzer brought his 3-heavy philosophy to the Bucks and they’ve used the approach to feature one of the NBA’s most efficient offenses. Milwaukee entered the game with the ninth-best offensive rating in the NBA to go with the fourth-best defensive rating.
The Wolves started 0 for 11 from the field and were scoreless until Butler scored with 7:19 left in the first quarter. Minnesota missed its first nine 3s and went 10 of 43 for the game.
The Bucks were also cold early, going just 1 of 8 from 3-point range. But Milwaukee finished the half hitting nine of its next 15 3s to build a 25-point halftime lead. Antetokounmpo scored only five points in the first half but Middleton and Malcolm Brodgon each had 13.
The Bucks entered the game shooting 40.8 3-pointers per game, up from last season’s total of 24.7 per game. They had connected on 15.3 3s per game this season, the third-highest total in the league. Milwaukee hit just 8.8 per game last season.
Timberwolves: F Andrew Wiggins missed his second straight game with a bruised right quadriceps. … With rookie Josh Okogie starting for Wiggins, it was the fourth different starting lineup for Minnesota this season. The Wolves used six different starting combinations last season, the fewest of any team in the league. … Minnesota got 56 points from its bench, led by Derrick Rose with 14.