MILWAUKEE - Anfernee Simons scored 31 points and the Portland Trail Blazers capitalized on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence, beating the Milwaukee Bucks 122-107 on Monday night for their third straight victory.
Simons has averaged 30 points and has shot 18 of 39 from 3-point range during Portland's winning streak.
Antetokounmpo didn’t play for the Bucks due to a sore left ankle. Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said before the game he believes it’s a short-term issue.
Josh Hart scored 27 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 23 points and 16 rebounds as the Trail Blazers continued to thrive after reshaping their roster at the trade deadline. Portland outrebounded Milwaukee 58-43.
The two teams met just nine days after the Bucks’ 137-108 victory at Phoenix, but much had changed with both squads since.
The Blazers traded C.J. McCollum, Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell to the New Orleans Pelicans last week for a package that was headlined by Hart. The Bucks sent Donte DiVincenzo to Sacramento and moved Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a four-team trade that brought them veteran center Serge Ibaka.
Ibaka made his Bucks debut Monday and filled Antetokounmpo’s spot in the starting lineup. Ibaka had the Bucks’ first six points, but didn’t score again in his 31-minute outing, though he did have seven rebounds.
Jrue Holiday led the Bucks with 23 points. Bobby Portis and Jordan Nwora had 17 each. Khris Middleton was one assist from a triple-double, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Hart scored 23 points Saturday in his first game with the Blazers, a 112-103 victory over the New York Knicks. He followed that up by shooting 5 of 9 from 3-point range on Monday and collecting seven rebounds and five assists to go along with his points.
After neither team led by more than six points for most of the first half, the Blazers broke the game open by scoring 14 straight points to grab a 65-48 advantage. Simons scored the last nine points in that run by making three straight 3-pointers over a span of 70 seconds.
Simons had 16 points in the last 7:36 of the second quarter. His surge helped the Blazers outscore the Bucks 34-14 over the last 8 ½ minutes of that period, turning a 40-37 deficit into a 71-54 halftime lead.
Portland got the lead up to 21 points in the third quarter. The Bucks got the margin down to eight on a few occasions early in the fourth period, but couldn’t get any closer.